Identity and Resistance in Okinawa

Identity and Resistance in Okinawa

by Matthew Allen


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The keystone of U.S. security in East Asia, Okinawa is a troubled symbol of resistance and identity. Ambivalence about the nature of Okinawan identity lies behind relations between Japan, the United States, and Okinawa today. Fully one-fifth of Okinawa's land is occupied by a foreign military power (the United States), and Okinawans carry a disproportionate responsibility for Japanese and U.S. security in the region. It thus figures prominently in the re-examination of key questions such as the nature of Japan, including the debate over Japanese "purity" and the nature of Japanese colonialism. Yet underneath the rhetoric of the "Okinawa problem" lies a core question: who are Okinawans? In contrast to approaches that homogenize Okinawan cultural discourse, this perceptive historical ethnography draws attention to the range of cultural and social practices that exist within contemporary Okinawa. Matthew Allen's narrative problematizes both the location of identity and the processes involved in negotiating identities within Okinawa. Using the community on Kumejima as a focus, the author describes how people create and modify multitextured and overlapping identities over the course of their lives. Allen explores memory, locality and history; mental health and shamanism; and regionalism and tourism in his richly nuanced study. His chapter on the Battle of Okinawa, which opens the book, is a riveting, fresh analysis of the battle in history and memory. His analysis of yuta (shamans) opens new terrain in rethinking the relationship between the traditional and the modern. Based on fieldwork, interviews, and historical research, Allen argues that identity in Okinawa is multivocal, ambivalent, and still very much "under construction." With its interdisciplinary focus, anthropologists, sociologists, and historians alike will find this book an important source for understanding broad questions of identity formation in the contexts of national, ethnic, cultural, historical and economic experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780742517158
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 02/01/2002
Series: Asian Voices Series
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

Matthew Allen is senior lecturer in Japanese history in the School of Asian Studies at the University of Auckland.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsviii
Introduction: Okinawa, Kumejima, and Identity1
Part IMemory, Locality, and History
1Wolves and Tigers: Remembering the Kumejima Massacres27
2Locality and Diaspora on Kumejima53
3Dialect and Dialectics81
4Educating Society107
Part IIMental Health, Shamanism, and Identity
5When Spirits Attack: Shamanism, Psychiatry, and Schizophrenia139
6The Unsuccessful Shaman's Apprentice167
7The Akebono-kai: Stigma and Identity183
Part IIIRegionalism and Identity
8Selling Kume to Japan: Tourism As the Last Resort207
9Confusing the Issues233
About the Author265

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