The Feminist Poetics and Transformative Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Michael Yasutake
- PUBLISHED: December 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian American Studies, Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 272 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 17 b&w illus.
- ISBN: 9780295748252
Demanding liberation, advocating for the oppressed, and organizing for justice, siblings Mitsuye Yamada (1923–) and Michael Yasutake (1920–2001) rebelled against respectability and assimilation, charting their own paths for what it means to be Nisei. Raised in Seattle and then forcibly removed and detained in the Minidoka concentration camp, their early lives mirrored those of many second-generation Japanese Americans. Yasutake’s pacifism endured even with immense pressure to enlist during his confinement and in the years following World War II. His faith-based activism guided him in condemning imperialism and inequality, and he worked tirelessly to free political prisoners and defend human rights. Yamada became an internationally acclaimed feminist poet, professor, and activist who continues to speak out against racism and patriarchy.
Weaving together the stories of two distinct but intrinsically connected political lives, Nisei Radicals examines the siblings’ half century of dedication to global movements, including multicultural feminism, Puerto Rican independence, Japanese American redress, Indigenous sovereignty, and more. From displacement and invisibility to insurgent mobilization, Yamada and Yasutake rejected stereotypes and fought to dismantle systems of injustice.
Authors & Contributors
Diane C. Fujino is professor of Asian American studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. Her books include Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama and Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance and a Paradoxical Life.
Nisei Radicals is an important addition to Asian American history texts and creates likable heroes out of Yasutake and Yamada.- International Examiner
All in all, Nisei Radicals is not only a book well worth reading as a joint biography of two remarkable Nikkei, but I hope will act as a springboard for larger discussions of social justice.- Nichi Bei Weekly
Exquisite in its rendering of the subject matter. A stunning piece of historical scholarship.- Arthur A. Hansen, editor of Nisei Naysayer
This transformative work emerges from the author's political commitments and determination, like those of Yamada and Yasutake, to act against exploitation and oppression in time and place.- Gary Y. Okihiro, author of The Boundless Sea: Self and History
A significant contribution to the fields of Asian American studies and history. By tracing how the siblings' confrontations of sexism, racism, and imperialism evolved over decades, Fujino shows how activism in prior eras informed activism in others.- Daryl Joji Maeda, author of Rethinking the Asian American Movement
Diane Fujino, the chronicler of Japanese American radicalism, has written another remarkable book about remarkable people. Fujino deftly and sensitively traces the lives and activism of Yamada and Yasutake.- Judy Wu, author of author of Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era
A robustly theorized and highly readable book that expands our all too limited understanding of postwar Japanese America and firmly situates it in the vibrant, multiracial social world of US and transnational social justice movements in the latter half of the twentieth century.- Meredith Oda, author of The Gateway to the Pacific: Japanese Americans and the Remaking of San Francisco
A delightful blend of biography, social history and poetics that shifts our reading of Japanese American history. Readers will certainly be inspired if not emboldened.- Karen Umemoto, University of California, Los Angeles