Dancing with the Dead: Memory, Performance, and Everyday Life in Postwar Okinawa

Dancing with the Dead: Memory, Performance, and Everyday Life in Postwar Okinawa

by Christopher T. Nelson
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0822343711

ISBN-13: 9780822343714

Pub. Date: 12/12/2008

Publisher: Duke University Press Books

Challenging conventional understandings of time and memory, Christopher T. Nelson examines how contemporary Okinawans have contested, appropriated, and transformed the burdens and possibilities of the past. Nelson explores the work of a circle of Okinawan storytellers, ethnographers, musicians, and dancers deeply engaged with the legacies of a brutal Japanese

Overview

Challenging conventional understandings of time and memory, Christopher T. Nelson examines how contemporary Okinawans have contested, appropriated, and transformed the burdens and possibilities of the past. Nelson explores the work of a circle of Okinawan storytellers, ethnographers, musicians, and dancers deeply engaged with the legacies of a brutal Japanese colonial era, the almost unimaginable devastation of the Pacific War, and a long American military occupation that still casts its shadow over the islands. The ethnographic research that Nelson conducted in Okinawa in the late 1990s—and his broader effort to understand Okinawans’ critical and creative struggles—was inspired by his first visit to the islands in 1985 as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Nelson analyzes the practices of specific performers, showing how memories are recalled, bodies remade, and actions rethought as Okinawans work through fragments of the past in order to reconstruct the fabric of everyday life. Artists such as the popular Okinawan actor and storyteller Fujiki Hayato weave together genres including Japanese stand-up comedy, Okinawan celebratory rituals, and ethnographic studies of war memory, encouraging their audiences to imagine other ways to live in the modern world. Nelson looks at the efforts of performers and activists to wrest the Okinawan past from romantic representations of idyllic rural life in the Japanese media and reactionary appropriations of traditional values by conservative politicians. In his consideration of eisā, the traditional dance for the dead, Nelson finds a practice that reaches beyond the expected boundaries of mourning and commemoration, as the living and the dead come together to create a moment in which a new world might be built from the ruins of the old.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822343714
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
12/12/2008
Series:
Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: The Battlefield of Memory 1

1. Fujiki Hayato: The Storyteller 27

2. The Heritage of His Times: Teruya Rinsuke and Ethnographic Storytelling 58

3. The Classroom of the Everyday: Fujiki Hayato and His "Shima to Asobimanabu" Seminar 89

4. In a Samurai Village 126

5. Dances of Memory, Dances of Oblivion 171

Conclusion: In the Darkness of the Lived Moment 215

Notes 221

Bibliography 253

Index 263

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