Identity and Resistance in Okinawa

Overview

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, ...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Timely and interesting.
Booknews
Allen (Japanese history, U. of Auckland, New Zealand) describes and analyzes the complex questions of identity in Okinawa, with its separate culture and history from Japan, large American military presence, and religions connected with shamanism and agricultural rituals. Though written by a professor of history, the study is strongly interdisciplinary, employing fieldwork familiar to anthropology and models from psychology in its study of religion. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
H-Asia
A pleasure to read....An important voice in the discourse on Okinawa. The author deserves special credit for his original and innovative approach towards Okinawan studies.
Journal Of Japanese Studies
The best English-language study to date in depicting the diversity and complexity within Japan's southernmost prefecture.
Monumenta Nipponica
Allen has set an innovative methodological agenda....[A] fine ethnographic narrative filled with vivid descriptions. An enjoyable read.
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
Timely and interesting.
Journal of Japanese Studies
The best English-language study to date in depicting the diversity and complexity within Japan's southernmost prefecture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742517141
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2002
  • Series: Asian Voices Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

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

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Okinawa, Kumejima, and Identity 1
1 Wolves and Tigers: Remembering the Kumejima Massacres 27
2 Locality and Diaspora on Kumejima 53
3 Dialect and Dialectics 81
4 Educating Society 107
5 When Spirits Attack: Shamanism, Psychiatry, and Schizophrenia 139
6 The Unsuccessful Shaman's Apprentice 167
7 The Akebono-kai: Stigma and Identity 183
8 Selling Kume to Japan: Tourism As the Last Resort 207
9 Confusing the Issues 233
Glossary 241
Interviews 245
Bibliography 247
Index 259
About the Author 265
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