AbstractFollowing the signing of Executive Order 9066, which began the removal process of Japanese Americans residing on the West Coast in 1942, the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council, under the direction of the War Relocation Authority, approved incarcerated Japanese Americans to continue their collegiate education at universities in the American interior. By placing Japanese American students at Midwestern universities, administrations of relocation reinvigorated the idea of the Midwest as the American heartland during World War II and the postwar period. This article argues that the prioritization of inland universities for the placement of incarcerated Japanese Americans upheld ideals of New Deal liberalism by providing access to education and reinforcing notions of student welfare, while simultaneously promoting the conditions for Japanese Americans’ erasure and assimilation in the Midwest. In other words, by maintaining ideals of the American heartland as insular, isolated, and central to an unquestioned “Americanness,” and therefore whiteness, government organizations transformed the wartime national security project into a postwar assimilation policy by prioritizing Midwestern universities and colleges for Japanese American relocation.
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