The following statement was issued Thursday by Professor Marjorie Kagawa Singer, interim director of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center, and Professor Jinqi Ling, chair of the UCLA Department of Asian American Studies.
After 35 years in academe, including a decade at UCLA, Professor Lane Ryo Hirabayashi will retire at the end of June 2017.
Prior to UCLA, Professor Hirabayashi held tenured faculty positions in the School of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State during the 1980s, and in the Ethnic Studies Departments at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the 1990s, and UC Riverside from 2003-2005.
Joining the Asian American Studies Department (AASD) at UCLA in 2006, Professor Hirabayashi was awarded a full professorship and the inaugural George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Incarceration, Redress and Community Chair at UCLA.
He then went on to publish “Japanese American Resettlement Through the Lens” (2008), co-authored the book “A Principled Stand: Gordon Hirabayashi v. the United States” (2013), and edited a special issue of the journal Pan Japan on diversity within the contemporary Nikkei community (Spring/Fall 2016). He also initiated the Aratani Endowed Chair-sponsored “Nikkei in the Americas” book series with the University Press of Colorado, which has published four titles and has four more in process as of 2017.
In addition, Professor Hirabayashi served as the chair of the Asian American Studies Department from 2007 to 2010 during which time the AASD grew with several new faculty members and reached out to a more diverse student body as well.
Professor Hirabayashi has worked tirelessly to personify the spirit and vision of the Aratani Endowed Chair at UCLA (AEC). As chair, he brought academia to the general community by sponsoring events and providing venues for members of the Japanese American community as well as the broader public.
He convened a large conference on trans-Pacific perspectives on Japanese American studies, co-sponsored with the University of Kyoto’s Professor Yasuko Takezawa, as well as countless talks, symposia, and programs co-organized with the Japanese American National Museum, the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR), the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, and other Nikkei community-based organizations.
Professor Hirabayashi also worked with faculty colleagues and the Asian American Studies Center staff to implement and run UCLA’s Aratani Community Advancement Research Endowment (CARE) Grants, which has given funding to numerous organizations, projects, and individuals, in order to enhance the relationship between the UCLA and Japanese American communities at large.
Looking back on his time at UCLA, Professor Hirabayashi notes: “I am grateful to both the Asian American Studies Center and department for the opportunity to serve as the Aratani Endowed Chair at UCLA for the past decade. It’s been an honor. And I especially thank the Aratani family for their support of my varied AEC initiatives.”
However, true to form, Professor Lane Hirabayashi is not slowing down! He will continue to assist the NCRR editorial team to publish a two-volume history of that organization this summer. He then plans to finish a book-length manuscript about Japanese American resettlement in Colorado and begin a new project on the impact of the San Francisco State strike, revolving around Japanese American community- and culture-building in the City during the 1970s and 1980s.
Due to current political events, his work is truly essential in the light of “Lessons our Country Should Learn.” Our history is constantly evolving and creating new identities of Asians in America. We can count on Professor Lane Hirabayashi to lend his analytic lens to the interactions that weave new identity formations both across time and within ever-changing social, historical and political dynamics.
Lane, we will continue to follow your work as you further collaborate with your colleagues and protégés for many years to come!
Thank you for your contributions now and into the future.