Farming the Home Place: A Japanese American community in California 1919-1982 by Valerie J. Matsumoto presents a close and in-depth study of social and culture history of Cortez, a small agricultural settlement located in San Joaquin valley in California. Divided into six chapter, the book is based primarily on the oral interviews responses from eighty three members of Issei, Nisei, and Sansei generations. However, many information are also obtained from the local newspapers, community records, and World War II concentration camp publications.
After the end of World War I in 1919, a group of thirty Japanese settled in San Joaquin Valley, California making their ethnic community in Cortez. Despite the Alien Land Law of 1913, which prevented Asians from purchasing land or leasing it for more than three years, most of the families were able to establish fruit orchards in large land areas. It is this community that the author of the book conducted her research.
Matsumoto studies three generations, Issei, Nisei, and Sansei living in a closely linked ethnic community. She focuses her studies in the Japanese immigration experiences during the time when many Americans were scared with the influx of immigrants from Asia. The book shows a vivid picture of how Cortex Japanese endured violence, discriminations during Anti-Asian legislation and prejudice in 1920s, the Great Depression of 1930s, and the internment of 1940s. It also shows an examination of the adjustment period after the end of World War II and their return to the home place.
Valerie has successfully portrayed the picture of change in gender role within the ethnic community. She has cited an example of Sansei. In the book, it is said that the older generation was purely patri...
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...ons. First, the oral history sources are well integrated with the existing literature. Next, by covering relatively long period of time, the reader gets a good sense of the dynamics of change.
In her book, Matsumoto has mentioned that Cortez community has formed community institutions such as Cortez Growers Association and the language schools for maintaining unity against prejudice and economic competitions. Nonetheless, the community was not free factions: between Buddhist and Presbyterians, between Cortez and other prosperous Japanese community nearby. These divisions were, however, muted in the due course of time.
The author has covered various aspects of the life of Cortez. There are no two opinions that her extensive research can help create a living portrait of a stable yet constantly evolving community.