Block councils


Informal organizations formed to manage affairs within individual blocks in the wartime concentration camps administered by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). Encouraged by camp administrators as a form of "self-government," block councils sprang up in the various WRA camps, their exact composition varying from camp to camp or block to block. Generally, the councils included one or more representatives from each barracks (if more than one, an Issei and a Nisei representative), the appointed block manager, the head chef, and sometimes the elected member of the community council. The block councils dealt with such issues as facilities and maintenance, recreation, sanitation, and inmate relations. Given the nature of both Japanese community dynamics and camp politics, many of the block councils came to be dominated by Issei men.[1]

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Cates, Rita Takahashi. "Comparative Administration and Management of Five War Relocation Authority Camps: America's Incarceration of Persons of Japanese Descent during World War II." PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1980.

Hansen, Arthur A. "Cultural Politics in the Gila River Relocation Center, 1942-1943." Arizona and the West 27 (Winter 1985): 327-62.

Hayashi, Brian Masaru. Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Spicer, Edward H., Asael T. Hansen, Katharine Luomala, and Marvin K. Opler. Impounded People: Japanese Americans in the Relocation Centers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1969.

Footnotes

  1. Arthur Hansen even describes block councils at Gila River where business was conducted exclusively in Japanese, effectively eliminating Nisei participation. See Hansen, "Cultural Politics in the Gila River Relocation Center, 1942-1943," Arizona and the West 27 (Winter 1985): 337–38 and Edward H. Spicer, Asael T. Hansen, Katharine Luomala, and Marvin K. Opler, Impounded People: Japanese Americans in the Relocation Centers (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946; Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1969), pp. 73–74.