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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Occupying Space in American Literature and Culture: Static Heroes, Social Movements and Empowerment


To come to terms with the inner life, it is not enough to constitute a biography or autobiography in narrative terms; one must also, and more crucially, do a topoanalysis of the places one has inhabited or experienced.

—Edward Casey, The Fate of Place

Casey’s argument about the intimate relationship between self, bios, and topos has a special resonance in Okubo’s Citizen 13660. This graphic memoir chronicles the artist’s internment at Tanforan Racetrack first and Topaz internment camp later; it is her topoanalysis of place. Okubo’s sketches document the artist’s life as homo sacer, the individual deprived of rights by the state itself within the limits of her own country. This transformation of the citizen into homo sacer is intimately related to the process of relocation, for there is a direct correlation between the construction of an “enemy race” and the opening of the appropriate spatial coordinates to contain it (Zhou 2007). The camp appears as the fitting place of contention, for it is a manifestation of what Lefebvre terms “abstract space”:

Abstract space, which is the tool of domination, asphyxiates whatever is conceived within it and then strives to emerge. Though it is not a defining characteristic of abstract space, there is nevertheless nothing secondary or fortuitous about this proclivity. This space is a lethal one which destroys the historical conditions that gave rise to it, its own (internal) differences, and any such differences that show signs of developing, in order to impose an abstract homogeneity. ([1974] 1991, 370)

Okubo’s sketches of her life in the assembly and internment camps thus provide an “autotopography” that inexorably links the individual to place. Her graphic memoir offers a skewed reflection of Benjamin’s “sphere of life-bios,” for it fashions not a bios on a map, but a zoe in a camp. Both words, bios and zoe, express the word “life” in Greek. While bios “indicated the form or way of living proper to an individual or a group” (Agam- ben [1995] 1998, 1), zoe expresses “the simple fact of living common to all living beings” (ibid.). In Citizen this zoe in the camp is expressed through the dialogue of sketch and the terse prose that accompanies it, through a double voice that allows for irony and humor, thus giving rise to what can be called a “third” voice. The chronicle of the life of the homo sacer could be called autozoegraphy, yet Okubo demonstrates that there is a recording bios in the apparent zoe in the camp, just as there is a differential space within the abstract space of the camp. As she mobilizes the categories of zoe and homo sacer, Okubo destabilizes the symmetrical category, that of the bios on the map. The homo munitus peculiar to walled countries correlates with the homo sacer on the other side of the barbed wire.

Contrary to the artist’s assessment in the preface to the 1983 edition, where she claims that “this was the first mass evacuation of its kind, in which civilians were removed simply because of their race” ([1946] 1983, viii-xix),10 internment has had a long tradition in the history of the U.S. from “praying Indians” to slave quarters or reservations. This logic of detention is consistent with what Erika Lee (2002, 37) terms the “gatekeeping ideology” that has characterized not only American immigration policy, but also its frequent practice of segregating citizens according to race. As a consequence, the locale, the border, or the ethnic ghetto have been configured in the popular and official imagination as rigid and striated spaces either to evict or to condemn the foreign and separate it from what is properly American (Kandiyoti 2009, 41). Although the corralling of Native Americans through the reservation system inaugurates bounding and immobilizing in restricted areas, for Lee this gatekeeping tradition begins with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, for it “legalized and reinforced the need to restrict, exclude, and deport ‘undesirable’ and excludable immigrants” (2002, 37). The act continued the ideological architecture that would be repeated in the history of the U.S. by racializing and containing the alien on the basis of race and culture. At the same time, the act allegedly protected the country from further immigrant incursions and dangerous immigrants already in the U.S. This was implemented by using the power of the state to “legalize the modes and processes of exclusion, restriction, surveillance, and deportation” (ibid., 38).

The internment of peoples of Japanese descent responds to this strategy of gatekeeping and enclosure-making and can be taken as another instance in a bleak genealogy of displacement and relocation. Just as from 1919 to 1924 the Weimar government declared the state of exception many times, after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the ensuing declaration of war on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order (EO) 9066. Three military areas where designated, including practically all the coastal states of Washington, Oregon, and California, and the inland states of Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah. In the first weeks of the American involvement in the war, the state treated Germans, Italians, and Japanese alike as “enemy aliens,” and the FBI immediately arrested seventeen hundred potentially dangerous aliens the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. But the military actions authorized by EO 9066 made sharp distinctions among enemy aliens: not only were Japanese aliens treated differently than German and Italian aliens, but in the evacuation and internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans from the Pacific Coast, some seventy thousand citizens found themselves forcefully “alienated” into the category of the enemy. This stigmatization is consistent with the traditional workings of power, which has “always arrogated the right to mark its others while going about unmarked itself” (Minh-ha 2011, 51). The wording of a 1942 relocation order is worth quoting:

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any such designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. (National Archives 2003,179)

In establishing zones of exclusion, the order sanctioned the creation of military areas within the U.S. and rendered the country open to segmentation and appropriation at the sole discretion of the “appropriate Military Commander.” If America was to protect its order, it had to control the location of those who “never had an ‘authentic’ place” (Palumbo-Liu 1999, 221) to begin with. All notions of citizenship and ownership were suspended as the U.S. government mandated the redefinition of American territory from which Japanese Americans were to be removed. The state declared not only a state of exception, but also a racial state of exception (Lee 2007, paragraph 43) that reproduces verbatim Erika Lee’s architecture of gate- keeping.11 Dislocation of American citizens is seen as America’s right to determine its own space and perimeter as well as those “very vital shore installations” that, curiously, De Witt noted, “by design or accident,” Japanese American communities were adjacent to (Palumbo-Liu 1999, 222-23). Literally, the order established holes in the fabric of the country at the same time that it commissioned the evacuees with filling in the blind spots left behind by American colonialism.

As restricted areas were prescribed, Japanese and Japanese American citizens were automatically transformed into “enemy aliens” that were required to have certificates of identification, Okubo explains.12 Suspicion became contagious, and day-to-day objects such as cameras, binoculars, and shortwave radios metamorphosed into “contraband” and, together with firearms, were to be turned over to the local police. The reader is witness to Okubo’s confusion and helplessness as she opens a newspaper in the middle of hostile and intoxicating messages in sketch no. 10. In everyday life, the racialized body of the Japanese is looked upon with suspicion and distrust, as sketch no. 12 illustrates. The passengers on a bus turn their heads toward Okubo, as if she carried her own coordinates of exception. Framed by the bus window, a rectangle split into two, the image illustrates the division of a society that does away with a part of itself that is deemed unnecessary or damaging to the body and the narrative of the nation. Thus the nation purges itself of its alien interiority. The subtraction from the body politic was chronicled through photographs announcing the immediate sale of businesses or change of management, as well as the “thank you for your custom” notes. The “common sense” that accompanied the removal, the layer of consent that made it possible, was also chronicled in the pictures of an apartheid U.S. that exemplified forms of what Gilroy terms camp-thinking, a process of national consolidation and authoritarian reintegration that exhibits distinctive rules and codes, as well as shared patterns of thought about self and Other, friend and stranger. A distinctive dynamic ensues, for while camp-thinking binds and congeals, camps, as regulators of life, separate and sever from the alleged healthy national body. Camp-thinking splits society between friends and enemies, those with us or against us. As the “enemies” are surgically removed from the national body, those encompassed within the “friend category” frequently degenerate into soldiery. The training and disciplining of citizens has the intention of transmuting heterogeneity into homogeneity (Gilroy 2000, 82). Whatever does not fit into this homogeneous vision of the nation and what the U.S. stands for is prophylactically contained and extricated.

Containment was initially invisible and was carried out through curfews. Public Proclamation no. 3 established that all American citizens and aliens of Japanese ancestry and other enemy aliens had to be home between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Okubo needed a special permit to travel to Oakland, where she was employed. After the time containment, the space internment ensued, and racetracks and country fair grounds changed overnight into assembly centers. Civil control stations were established for families to register. As she waits for her turn in a crowded room, the artist illustrates the surreal quality of the situation: as an “alien enemy” she is surrounded by rifles while she reads the funnies. As a result of her interview at Pilgrim Hall of the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, Okubo’s name, and the family and personal history implicit in it, were reduced to number 13660: “I was given several tags bearing the family number, and was then dismissed” (19). The brevity and concision of the sentence expresses the implicit violence against the individual and her total lack of agency. As in a great deal of Citizen, Okubo uses the passive mode as she underscores the helplessness of her forced pilgrimage, a journey that symbolically starts at Pilgrim Hall (cf. Chin 2008, 71). Evoking the early settlers who arrived in New England to escape religious oppression, Pilgrim Hall is now transformed into a space of exception suited for an entirely different congregation (Zhou 2007, 62-63). Okubo and her brother, together with their luggage, are unceremoniously tagged, and the steps of relocation are expeditiously set into motion. Significantly, neither Okubo nor her brother is treated as soon- to-be pioneers or trailblazers but as soon-to-be internees (Fryer 2008, 86). The artist is rendered homeless by her own country, as the last look at the family house illustrates in sketch no. 23. A diagonal line splits the home, the locus of the familiar, the bios on the map, from the other side of the line, the car and the forced removal.

These stages of removal bear some resemblance with the increasing restrictions imposed on Jews after the Nazi occupation of Prague. Auster- litz’s mother, Vera, could go shopping only at certain times; she could not take a taxi, she could sit only in the last carriage of the tram, she could not visit a coffeehouse or cinema or attend a concert or any other event. Nor could she herself appear onstage anymore. Access to the banks of the Vltava and the parks and gardens she had loved so much was barred to her. Before long “it was forbidden for Jews to walk on the pavement on the side of the road next to the park, to go into a laundry or dry cleaner’s, or to make a call from a public telephone” (172). Her bank accounts were frozen and her valuables taken to the “Compulsory Collection Center.”13 She was subsequently sent two envoys that informed her she was to be taken away within six days. She was given a set of printed forms and instructions: where and when she would have to present herself, items of clothing, articles of personal use to be taken, articles that would become useful, how the luggage was to be labeled, and the number allotted to her (177). She stayed in the Trade Fair building for several days until the group was finally marched to the railway station (179). The destination was Terezin, a city about sixty kilometers outside Prague, where the Germans had created an alleged model city for the Jews. The silent assembly Vera and her friend Agata encountered when they reached the entrance of the Trade Fair echoes in Okubo’s sketches, and the artist’s representation of the undifferentiated mixture of peoples and luggage, as if both Pilgrim Hall and the Trade Fair building were part of those interlocking spaces where, as Auster- litz describes in his vision, prisoners searched for some means of escape. For Vera and Okubo, inscription into the land by birth does not protect them from the violence of the state. For both women, the camp is both the new, hidden regulator of their inscription of life as well as the sign of the state’s inability to function without being transformed into an artifact that, like Deleuze and Guattari’s abjection machine, ejects the undesirable by enclosing it.

78 Occupying Space in American Literature and Culture Camp as Heterotopia: Tanforan Racetrack

The great danger arising from the existence of people forced to live outside the common world is that they are thrown back, in the midst of civilization, on their natural givenness, on their mere differentiation. They lack that tremendous equalizing of differences which comes from being citizens of some commonwealth and yet, since they are no longer allowed to partake in the human artifice, they begin to belong to the human race in much the same way as animals belong to a specific animal species. The paradox involved in the loss of human rights is that such loss coincides with the instant when a person becomes a human being in general—without a profession, without a citizenship, without an opinion, without a deed . . .

The danger in the existence of such people [people forced to live outside the common world] is twofold: first and more obviously, their ever-increasing numbers threaten our political life, our human artifice, the world which is the result of our common and co-ordinated effort in much the same, perhaps even more terrifying, way as the wild elements of nature once threatened the existence of manmade cities and countrysides. Deadly danger to any civilization is no longer likely to come from without. Nature has been mastered and no barbarians threaten to destroy what they cannot understand. . . .

The danger is that global, universally interrelated civilization may produce barbarians from its own midst by forcing millions of people into conditions which, despite all appearances, are the conditions of savages (302).

—Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

The border cuts both ways.

—Lora Romero, “Nationalism and Internationalism: Domestic Differences in a Postcolonial World”

When Chiura Obata, who had joined the art faculty of the University of California at Berkeley in 1932, was visited by his students at Tanforan Racetrack, they reportedly exclaimed: “Oh, how terrible. Professor Obata, you are behind a fence!” To which Obata calmly replied, “From my perspective it looks like you are behind the fence” (Higa 1992, 24). Obata’s response voices the interdependence between in and out, between here and there. As a common remark among border inhabitants puts it, “the high wall that keeps out is the same that keeps in” (Minh-ha 2011, 3); the wall of security is also a wall of insecurity. These statements further bespeak the interdependence between the camp and the camp mentality that gives rise to it: the rallies and appeals to race, nation, ethnic difference, and absolute cultural identity are also surrounded by invisible barbed wire. Obata’s answer repositions the axis of barbed wire that supposedly separated homo sacer and full citizen, camp and city, zoe and bios. As if anticipating Agamben’s musings, Obata does not establish a difference between these pairs of allegedly antithetical terms. In fact, Obata’s words spatially present a symmetrical image of society and its subjects. The camp is envisioned as a “site” where Japanese Americans are fixed into threatening aliens, into the negative of society.14 In creating these sites, however, the country itself becomes a “site,” an equally immobile national identity. Furthermore, the internees are placed in social and political black holes that permeate society and democracy as a whole. For, as Agam- ben claims, if the state of exception that regulates the camp equals the total or partial suspension of the juridical order, the question is, “how can such a suspension still be contained within it? How can an anomie be inscribed within the juridical order?” (2005, 23). The anomie, to use Agamben’s word, inevitably threatens the scaffolding of our “political life, our human artifice, the world which is the result of our common and co-ordinated effort,” as Arendt put it. That is, our identity as bios and not as zoe. If, to follow Agamben’s argument, the law embraces lawlessness, how can it continue to function as the law? In fact, the camp functions as a gap within society, as a lacuna, as a space outside the law, as Agamben explains through a conceptual chiasmus: “To an order without localization (the state of exception, in which law is suspended) there now corresponds a localization without order (the camp as permanent state of exception)” ([1995] 1998, 175). Thus the camp emerges as the spatialization of EO 9066, as a government cartography that implies immobilization. As a regulated and striated space, the camp exemplifies the kind of space that Deleuze and Guattari qualify as a hierarchical, sedentary, static, and homogeneous space. It reconstitutes a “central perspective,” as the philosophers put it, and serves the purpose of control and containment, acting as a kind of Panopticon.

The peculiar feature of the camp is that it does not exist out there, on an alien exteriority to the body of the nation, but on the premises of the nation as “a dislocating localization” (Agamben [1995] 1998, 175). The premises of the camp physically and ideologically overlay the nation and offer a heterotopic location, a spatial palimpsest of former occupations and uses. A heterotopia can be understood in at least two senses: it can be a refuge, a safe haven, a protected space, a sanctuary against the outside, or its opposite, a camp whose inmates are literally “bandits” in the sense that they have a ban imposed on them (De Cauter and Dehaene 2008, 97). The internment camps blend both meanings, for even if they were popularized as free cities, as the pioneer cities of the West, as sanctuaries for the preventive protection of Japanese Americans, they were concentration camps where Japanese and Japanese Americans were immobilized into a stereotype.15 Fittingly, the racial stereotype of the “Japnazis” or “Japaryans” correlates with the spatial coordinates of the camp, now transformed into a “spatial stereotype” (Kandiyoti 2009, 41).16 Thus racetracks and fairgrounds, those “marvelous empty emplacements at the outskirts of cities,” that, as Foucault noted, “filled up, once or twice a year, with stands, displays, heteroclite objects, wrestlers, snake women, fortune tellers” ([1967] 2008, 20), accommodated a contingent that, by virtue of being dislocated and subtracted from the body politic, became alienated. In an ironical terminological continuity, the space of leisure, the racetrack, immobilized the apparently homogeneous racial body, essentialized by propaganda as irrevocably different and threatening. The relocation was represented as voluntary, and the photographers hired by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) were instructed to avoid photographing the three basic aspects that illustrated the internment: barbed wire, armed soldiers, and watchtowers (Gordon and Okihiro 2006, 20). The commission had a clear double edge, for even if it would protect against allegations of mistreatment and violations of international law, it carried the risk of documenting actual mistreatment. The photographers’ was to be the only graphic record of the removal and resettlement, for internees were forbidden to have cameras (ibid., 21).17 By eliminating the perimeter from the graphic chronicle of internment, only inclusion remains, an inclusion without apparent force, but voluntarily adopted by Japanese Americans who came under the protection of the state.

Invariably, however, Okubo represents the armed guards at the different stages of relocation. As she patiently waits in line to board the bus bound for Tanforan under the attentive gaze of armed soldiers, she recalls “some of the stories told on shipboard by European refugees bound for America” (26). Thus the artist places herself in the migration narrative from Europe to America and the arrival on Ellis Island. The relocated threshold, however, is now secured by a fence and armed guards. A familiar scene awaits the forced travelers, as sketch no. 28 illustrates. Diagonally split into the image of the new arrivals and the mass of people and luggage, the image converges, very tellingly, on a soldier. Subsequent sketches show men and women being separated and searched for contraband, to conclude with a medical examination, where Okubo is ordered to undress. From the threshold of the nation, as implicit in the comparison with European immigrants, Okubo takes us to the threshold of the camp, a metamorphosis that marks not the selection of the chosen as opposed to those marked with an X, but the exclusion of both aliens and citizens. What opens at the camp is not a nation but the anti-nation that strips its citizens bare in physical and psychological terms. As an anti-nation, the camp, in Agamben’s words, is “the fourth inescapable element that has now added itself to—and so broken—the old trinity composed of the state, the nation (birth), and land” ([1995] 1998, 176). Yet there is more to this stripping bare, for Japanese Americans forcefully sloughed the wrappings of citizenship: “Insofar as its inhabitants were stripped of every political status and wholly reduced to bare life, the camp was also the most absolutely biopolitical space ever to have been realized, in which power confronts nothing but pure life without any mediation” (ibid., 171). If Georges Perec (2006, 99) argued that Ellis Island was a dumping ground where overworked functionaries stamped immigrants into Americans, it seems possible to add that the camp stamped American citizens into aliens and into removable humans.

A new time and space dimension opens for the internees. The heterotopia, Foucault explains, starts to function fully when people find themselves in a sort of absolute break from their traditional time. There are heterotopias associated with the accumulation of time, such as libraries and museums, and others that are linked to time in its most futile, most transitory, most precarious aspect, such as fairgrounds (De Cauter and Dehaene 2008, 20). The camp, following Foucault’s reasoning, is not linked to the accumulation of time or to its absence, but rather to the annihilation of it, for the internees are taken out of their specific time coordinates, and personal and interpersonal histories are expeditiously flattened out. In a similar way, the internee is despatialized. In its paradoxical workings, the camp assigns a place that is in itself a place of exclusion. “The camp is a piece of land placed outside the normal juridical order, but it is nevertheless not simply an external space. What is excluded in the camp is, according to the etymological sense of the term ‘exception’(ex-capere), taken outside, included through its own exclusion” (Agamben [1995] 1998, 170). This allocation is made manifest in Okubo’s trek to what was to be their home, Barrack 16 room 50—an address that, like Okubo’s number, 13660, excludes the individual through forceful inclusion. The moment is captured in sketch no. 33. Okubo is situated between a guide and her brother and looks straight at the reader in utter disbelief. In the background, the nonhome of the camp, a series of undifferentiated barracks akin to Austerlitz’s visions of incarceration. It starts to drizzle, Okubo notes in her narrative, and the raindrops create an X on the horizon, as they fall like bullets on the three figures. The rectangular constructions in the background, with buildings resembling boxes, evoke the niches of a cemetery. It is, indeed, the Tanatos city (Solans 2000, 143-44). Arranged in the familiar diagonal division, Stable 16 is pointed out in the next sketch, an isolated building surrounded by tall weeds. In a conceptual twist, the stable provides the unstable coordinates of the excluded as well as the conceptual continuity between inhabitant and architecture. Throughout the memoir, the reader will become acquainted with the barracks, an example of permeable architecture where sound, heat, and smells traveled unimpeded, a new modality of tenement life in the middle of the twentieth century. This neo-tenement life holds in suspense the set of ideas traditionally associated with the single-family home: citizenship, health, morality, and subjectivity (Klimasmith 2005, 91). Whereas the single household offered a seamless coherence of character and a comforting, bounded enclosure, the barracks offered a continuous, communal, and anonymous life that suspended the American gospel of domesticity.18 What is, one may wonder, the mock meaning of stability under internment? The stable stabilizes and normalizes exception. It is also a heterotopic home, a palimpsest that reveals previous occupations. Spiderwebs, horsehair, and hay had been hurriedly whitewashed with the walls, Okubo writes. Spikes and nails stuck out all over the walls. Dust, linoleum, and manure-covered boards comprised the multilayered floor of the stable.

“The camp was a mess” (48), Okubo writes, and the image shows the artist sketching the inmates in the midst of building material. Carpenters were working overtime to build more barracks, and inmates had to steal lumber to finish or repair the stables. This is, indeed, pioneer life in reverse. Coated with the rhetoric of freedom, the internees are offered the chance to rewrite the American experience of the frontier. Yet Okubo downplays the triumphant narrative as she dissects the anatomy of the camp, the loss of intimacy and individuality, and the pain of dislocation. In a conceptual twist, the racetrack allowed no races, no movement. Hence the sense of isolation and stasis, especially when the artist offered panoramic vistas from the grandstand at Tanforan, one of Okubo’s favorite lookouts.

The lines outside the mess halls further emphasize the indifference and forced passivity of the internees. “We were pushed into the mess hall” (39), writes Okubo, into overcrowded quarters where the reader struggles to locate the artist, only visible behind a man’s hat. An assembly line reminiscent of both the lines outside and the secured perimeter of the camp structured meals in the mess hall. The anonymous experience contrasts with the sketch on page 7, where Okubo and her brother are having a meal with friends around a table, and leaves the protagonist in utter confusion. Not surprisingly, Okubo writes on page 61, the post office was one of the busiest places in the center. A customhouse of sorts where all packages are searched, the office offers the only means of communication with the outside world, family, and friends. “Infrequent letters from my father were always post-marked from a new camp in a different state. Letters from my European friends told me how lucky I was to be free and safe at home” (61), Okubo concisely writes. In two sentences Okubo situates side by side the anywhereness of the father and the nowhereness of the camp, coated in the alleged safety of official propaganda. Situated in the middle of the sketch and standing next to the post office, the American flag is the point of convergence. Transplanted onto the geography of incarceration, however, the flag poses somber forms of forced tutelage, as guests become hostages.

In spite of the workings of this forced hospitality, the inclusion through exclusion is not such that it does not allow possibilities for reinscription, and Okubo describes the features of the new city. There are church services and jobs, schools and libraries, victory gardens, a lake, as well as other forms of structuring and networking in the lives of the internees: talent shows, pageants, dances, Mardi Gras, parades, knitting, games. Thus the internees create their peculiar coinage of citizenship or bios within the stasis of Tanforan. To the forced relocation and removal, they respond with a parallel re-territorialization, “a process of altering hostile and unfamiliar landscapes into arenas of identity articulation in which differences are declared and subjectivities enacted” (Dusselier 2008, 51). The logic of the camp as the indifferent premises suitable for indistinguishable people is suspended. Internees altered the spatial practice of the camp and its logic of detention by “engaging with art forms of gardening and landscaping as strategies for creating survivable places” (ibid.). Through artistic reinscription of the physical place, internees not only resisted relocation and immobilization, but also created a “portable sense of place” (ibid.). It is a place constructed by and through experience that creates meaning and forges identity (Tuan 1975, 153). The Japanese American experience illustrates that, as Dusselier argues, place can reside in portable objects and spaces, such as art, furniture making, gardening, and landscaping: this portability of identity and nationality “problematizes the attachment of culture to physical locations structured by nation-states and instead suggests a more transnational understanding of identity formation” (2008, 52). Artistic production and repossession turns the anti-nation into a portable nation that is able to suture another trinity made up of culture, land, and alternative citizenship. Similarly, the abstract space of the camp turns into what Lefebvre calls a “differential space”: the space that returns heterogeneity against the tendency of eliminating existing differences or peculiarities. It also restores unity to what abstract space breaks up—to the functions, elements, and moments of social practice ([1974] 1991, 52). By reclaiming the camp, Okubo and the rest of the internees vacate the premises of internment without going outside its limits. By staying within the lines, Okubo is undoing those very lines. She becomes the nomad within. The racetrack, initially the site of stasis and immobility, stands as the place that harbors not only the notion, but also the motion of the homo sacer and the zoe in camp. The mobilization of the category of the homo sacer, in the symmetrical image that Obata presented for his students, implies the questioning of the citizen of the nation-camp on the other side. The barbed wire, as the professor claimed, cuts both ways, and it may reverse the process of line making.19

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