Laura FUgikawa

Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies and Gender & Women's Studies


Ph.D., American Studies and Ethnicity, with a certificate in Gender Studies, University of Southern California, 2011

Research and Teaching Interests

Laura Sachiko Fugikawa's interdisciplinary teaching looks at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality in 20th and 21st c US culture through close readings of historical documents, contemporary events, literature, and film. Fugikawa holds a doctoral degree in American Studies and Ethnicity with a certificate in Gender Studies from the University of Southern California (2011). Most recently, she was a Chancellors’ Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2011-2012). Broadly, her interdisciplinary research interests include Comparative Ethnic, Asian American, American Indian, Women, Gender and Queer Studies. Her additional teaching fields include American Studies, Cultural Studies and Multi-ethnic Literature and Film.


Her book manuscript, Domestic Containment: Japanese Americans, Native Americans and the Cultural Politics of Relocation, is a comparative analysis of two US mid-twentieth-century dispersal programs run by the War Relocation Authority (WRA), created in 1943 to encourage Japanese American camp residents to leave the camps during the resettlement period (1942-1946), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Voluntary Relocation Program, an agency created in 1956 to persuade Native Americans to move to distant cities during the much longer urban relocation era (late 1940s to early 1980s). Through an examination of archival government documents and agency propaganda, she examines how government agencies, under the guise of benevolence, used dispersal of communities and “self-sufficient citizen” propaganda in an attempt to assimilate each group in specific ways. She then turns to contemporary literature and film to explore articulations of the long-term psychic effects of displacement alongside imagined strategies for survival. Reading these three forms of narratives alongside one another elucidates the shift of the state’s policy from physical containment to ideologies of containment through assimilation, and demonstrates how specific gender, class and racial formations were endorsed during the postwar era of nation building. Domestic Containment provides insight into what is missing from the stories told about this time period, particularly the psychic costs of belonging amidst mid-twentieth-century understandings of what it meant to be a “citizen.”


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