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States of Incarceration Featured on NJTV News

March 9, 2018

The States of Incarceration exhibit at Douglass Library was recently featured on NJTV News.

Created by over 500 students and community partners in 17 states, including participants from Rutgers–Newark and Rutgers–New Brunswick, the traveling exhibit explores the roots of mass incarceration in the United States. Rutgers’ contribution focuses on the history of Seabrook Farms, a frozen-foods agribusiness in Cumberland County that, during World War II, recruited 2,500 incarcerated Japanese Americans released on parole from so-called internment camps in the western interior of the United States.

From the NJTV article:

At the Rutgers “States of Incarceration” exhibit on display until Friday, organizers say New Jersey is an increasingly diverse state, and so is the university, where more than a quarter of the student body is of Asian ancestry.

“But when you go out and travel around the state and you look for historic sites or landmarks or monuments, you don’t find, for the most part, places that are representative of this state’s diverse history. The joke among public historians is that you can find hundreds of homes where George Washington slept for a night, right?” said [assistant professor of American Studies Andrew] Urban.

The exhibit raises the specter of whether such history could repeat itself in America.

“One of the aims of an exhibit like this one is to provide the Rutgers community with an opportunity to interrogate past practices,” said [women’s studies librarian Kayo] Denda.

“If you look at the practices of indefinite detention that various Muslim immigrants faced after 9/11, if you look at the history of the use of Guantánamo Bay and various black sites, the various principles that are being cited to justify these practices are very much in line with the same principles that were cited during Japanese American incarceration,” said Urban.

The next stop for the exhibit is Antioch College in Ohio.