A New Monument Addresses the Erasure of Japanese American Incarceration
The Irei: National Monument for the WWII Japanese American Incarceration aims to remember and repair the racial karma of America.
The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles has launched an interactive project that expands and reimagines what a monument can be. Led by USC Ito Center Director Duncan Ryuken Williams and Project Creative Director Sunyoung Lee, the Irei: National Monument for the WWII Japanese American Incarceration aims to address the erasure of Japanese American incarceration in the US. At the heart of the Irei Monument is the first comprehensive and accurate list of over 125,000 names of every person of Japanese ancestry incarcerated during World War II. Now, the list will be shared with the public through three distinct, interlinking elements: a sacred book of names as monument (慰霊帳 Ireichō), an online archive as monument (慰霊蔵 Ireizō), and light sculptures as monument (慰霊碑 Ireihi).
The Irei Monument project draws inspiration from the history and traditions of monuments built by Buddhist priests and incarcerated individuals in internment camps, such as the Manzanar Ireito monument (Consoling Spirits Tower) in Inyo County, California, and the Rohwer Ireihi monument in Desha County, Arkansas. “The Ireito monument is always in my mind as a reminder of this history and a Buddhist way of understanding memory,” Williams told Tricycle. “It was not just for remembering, but also for repairing. The monument was just as much for consoling those who have gone before as it was for those who remain. It’s through that spirit that we’re building these new monuments in the 21st century.”
You can read more in an article by Amanda Lim Patton published in the Tricycle.org web site at: https://tricycle.org/article/irei-national-monument/.