Lane Hirabayashi: Two Generations of Trailblazers

Acclaimed Father-and-Son Scholars Jim and Lane Hirabayashi Collaborate on Groundbreaking Research

When Akemi Kikumura-Yano first wrote to me about joining the International Nikkei Research Project I jumped at the opportunity to participate. In part, this was because my father, Jim Hirabayashi, had already clued me in as to the many individual scholars and the different Nikkei organizations involved in the project.

Besides being my father, Jim has always been a friend and a mentor. Our relationship became especially close when I decided in 1974 to begin doctoral work in socio-cultural anthropology at Berkeley. After that our mutual friends noticed that we would sit and talk for hours about books, about theory, about fieldwork. Perhaps this is because Jim has always taken me to the different places where he has carried out his research: Japan, Africa, South America, and various regions of the U.S.A.

Once I started studying anthropology seriously, we had many points of reference in common.

In this sense, working on the INRP project has had a special pay-off for me. I got to see Jim at the Museum two or three times a year—visits I wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’d stay in the Miyako Inn and after meetings, or early the next morning for breakfast, would have a meal and discuss how the project was going, and how it related to the larger mission of the National Museum.

Over the years I have realized that it is a special privilege to find collaborators who are thoughtful, stimulating, and imaginative. When it turns out that a close collaborator is your father too, well, that’s just icing on the cake! Thank you, Akemi; thank you, Jim. I’m ready to start work on the next INRP book.

—Lane Ryo Hirabayashi

Lane Hirabayashi, Professor of Asian American and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has written extensively about aspects of the Japanese American experience. His numerous books include Inside An American Concentration Camp: Japanese American Resistance at Poston, Arizona (1995) and The Politics of Fieldwork: Research in an American Concentration Camp (1999).

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