Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, is a key place for considering the conjuncture of modern Japanese and American history in East Asia. From the late 1940s onwards, the US military bases on the islands have been crucial symbols of this conjuncture, and have shaped a large part of Okinawa’s political identity. Since the time of the first island-wide uprising in the mid-1950s, various kinds of direct political action have been attempted by local people, who refused to be involved with warfare and to be used as ‘the keystone of the Pacific’.
The historical narrative of the so-called Okinawa struggle (Okinawa tōsō) accounts for the development of people’s critical commitment to issues such as local land rights and resource management, gender and human rights, and the memory of war and occupation. This historical narrative is framed within the major collective experience of colonialism, war and occupation. However, in my research I highlight the importance of what I call minor experiences, including the participation of diverse social actors in the Okinawan struggle. This reflects the changing nature of the Okinawa struggle since the 1980s and the increase of individual, non-organisational, non-local participation in the movement, including the presence of participants from overseas. Minor and individual experiences are playing crucial roles, re-placing the Okinawa struggle in a complex set of historical and social relationships. In this presentation, I discuss these minor experiences by highlighting two locations – Takae and the Kerama Islands – which provide vivid examples of cross-cultural practices and negotiation across cultural and historical borders in order to regalvanise the Okinawan struggle. All welcome.
About the speaker:
Shinnosuke Takahashi is a PhD candidate in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
You are invited to join the speaker for drinks after the seminar at Fellows Bar, University House