Date of Graduation
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
School of Education
Counseling Psychology EdD
Alma Flor Ada
At one time, the Kibei were perceived as "a minority within a minority" (Me Williams, 1944: 322) who were "distrusted in both America and Japan" (1944:321). But today, the Kibei are hardly distinguishable from the Nisei as they both enter the evening of their lives. Raised in both America and Japan, but strongly influenced in their formative years by Japanese cultural values and beliefs, they were often perceived differently by their own family, by the Japanese American community, and by the American community at large. The apparent marginality of this group, living on the fringes of or in the space between two cultures, often led to problems of low self-esteem, depression and unrealized anger (Henkin, 1985). They were also targets for scorn by the Nisei and were even held in low status by the Issei (Kiefer, 1974), the very group that sponsored their sojourns back to homeland. This rejection was a very bitter pill, indeed, because it set up a communicative and relational double bind. Many researchers have concluded that Kibei men especially had problems throughout their lives (Bosworth, 1967; Kitagawa, 1967; Maykovich, 1972; McWilliams, 1944; Opler, 1967; Spicer, et al, 1969; Strong, 1934; Thomas & Nishimoto, 1946; Thomas, 1952).
The current portrait of the Kibei and the image that endures from the literature on the Japanese American experience needs to be reevaluated and amplified in order to promote a more complete story and a more accurate picture, and a more balanced self-identity. This perceptual update can lead to changes in behavior in the Kibei themselves and in the educators, practitioners, policymakers and program developers who interact with and serve them.
Participatory research facilitates changes in the research participants' own perspectives in ways not available through other methodologies. The researcher chose dialogues with the Kibei as the means to more positive and comprehensive self-definitions of themselves and even tore-frames that Kibei could use to transform the meaning of years of earlier trauma.
Through this participatory research, the Kibei men were able to share their life experiences, their struggles, suffering, happiness, and wisdom. Documenting this information is valuable because now for the first time, everyone in society will have the opportunity to hear their stories clearly. Their life stories can be a source of inspiration for younger Japanese Americans, and for other Asian minorities in the United States, and can enlighten those who still hold a negative image of the Kibei based on their readings of most of the literature on the Nikkei experience.
Masuda, William T., "A Participatory Study of the Self-Identity of Kibei Nisei Men: A Sub Group of Second Generation Japanese American Men" (1993). Doctoral Dissertations. 472.