Greg Robinson

Greg Robinson, a native New Yorker, is Professor of History at l'Université du Québec À Montréal, a French-language institution in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of the books By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy; Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), After Camp: Portraits in Postwar Japanese Life and Politics (University of California Press, 2012), Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era (University of Illinois Press, 2012), and The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016), as well as coeditor of the anthology Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road (University of Washington Press, 2008). Robinson is also coeditor of the volume John Okada - The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018).

His historical column “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great,” is a well-known feature of the Nichi Bei Weekly newspaper. Robinson’s latest book is an anthology of his Nichi Bei columns and stories published on Discover Nikkei, The Unsung Great: Portraits of Extraordinary Japanese Americans (University of Washington Press, 2020). It was recognized with an Association for Asian American Studies Book Award for Outstanding Achievement in History Honorable Mention in 2022. He can be reached at robinson.greg@uqam.ca.


Updated March 2022

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A Heart to Heart: Carlos Bulosan and Japanese Americans - Part 2

Read Part 1>> In our previous section, we discussed Carlos Bulosan’s biography and his rise to success as an Asian American writer during the war years. While Bulsan wrote as a representative of Philippine Americans and centered his discussion on the experience of Pinoy workers, he showed a deep interest in other Asian American groups, particularly Japanese Americans. At a time when tensions were high between Filipino and Japanese Americans due to the Pacific War, Bulosan expressed feelings of friendship, empathy and admiration for the Nisei. In return, several Japanese Americ…

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A Heart to Heart: Carlos Bulosan and Japanese Americans - Part 1

One of the first and most gifted writers to express an Asian American consciousness was Carlos Bulosan. Bulosan’s experience as a migrant laborer from the Philippines to the U.S. and his travels along the California coast during the era of the Great Depression inspired his work, most notably his autobiographical novel America is in the Heart (1946). The novel introduced the experience of Filipino migrants to American audiences. Bulosan’s incisive portraits of migrant farmworkers provided one of the first accounts for a mainstream audience of the prejudice and hardships that Fili…

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Yoshinori Matsuyama: A Transnational Japanese Tenor and Composer in America—Part 2

Read Part 1 >> In January 1925, Comoedia magazine reported that Yoshinori Matsuyama would be leaving France and returning to his native country for an extended period to research “characteristic scenes of ancient Japan” for future presentation in France by a new company of singers, dancers, instrumentalists, and mimes, as well as to present French works to Japanese audiences. The critic noted: “Mr. Matsuyama has written works whose harmonies are entirely based on the koto scale, whereas the modern Japanese school tends rather to abandon its own originality in order t…

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Yoshinori Matsuyama: A Transnational Japanese Tenor and Composer in America—Part 1

In recent decades, Asian-born performers have occupied a visible place in western classical music. These Musicians From a Different Shore, in scholar Mari Yoshihara’s phrase, have included renowned soloists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Mitsuko Uchida, Cho-Liang Lin, Midori, Kyung-Wah Chung, and Lang Lang, conductors such as Seiji Ozawa and Myung-whun Chung, as well as countless top-flight ensemble players. In contrast, the presence and contribution of Asian classical music performers in the period before World War II has remained surprisingly obscure. In fact, a number of Japanese-born performers…

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Tetsu Komai: The Story of The Man You Love to Hate

One of the most prolific, and possibly most underappreciated, Asian American actors of the “Golden Age of Hollywood” was Tetsu Komai, who distinguished himself by playing villainous “Asiatics” (mostly Chinese) for the delectation of American audiences. He acted in over 60 features in the prewar decades, appearing opposite such great names as Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Colman, and Bette Davis, as well as Anna May Wong. Tetsuo Komai was born 23 April 1894 in Kumamoto, Japan. His father was Takekuma Komai, a native of Seoul, where the young Tetsuo grew up (he never p…

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