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The Color of SuccessAsian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority$
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Ellen D. Wu

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157825

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157825.001.0001

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Leave Your Zoot Suits Behind

Leave Your Zoot Suits Behind

(p.16) Chapter 1 Leave Your Zoot Suits Behind
The Color of Success

Ellen D. Wu

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the ways in which Nisei zoot-suiters became a lightning rod for the prescriptions of resettlement's stakeholders, and how this illuminates critical features of wartime culture that operated to reset the terms of Japanese American citizenship after Exclusion. A professed political loyalty to the United States overshadowed the reimagining of Nikkei as assimilable Others. Gender and sexuality especially figured prominently in determining the contours of postcamp social standing. Scattered evidence indicates that community members tagged Nisei women regarded as morally wayward as yogore—derived from the Japanese verb yogoreru (to get dirty). The chapter shows how yogore expressed an alternative masculinity that deviated manifestly from dominant expectations of male citizens during wartime.

Keywords:   Nisei zoot-suiters, Japanese Americans, exclusion, wartime culture, Nikkei, gender, sexuality, Nisei women, yogore

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