Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Faculty of Social Science
Ramat Aviv, 69978 Israel
"Being Okinawan Women – Identity in the Making"
Okinawa is situated at the southwestern tip of the Japanese archipelago, surrounded by the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and is comprised of over 160 islands. The historic political narrative is positioning Okinawa as the weaker link in the power relations of U.S- Japan- Okinawa, and almost always as the margins among "strong others." The Battle of Okinawa (April 1 -June 23, 1945), also known as the "Typhoon of Steel," was the last major battle of World War II and demarcated the Japanese army's defeat on Okinawa's land. In that horrific battle, Okinawa lost a quarter of its civilian population. The American occupation of Japan ended in 1952, but it lasted in Okinawa for 27 years and officially ended in 1972.
In my doctoral studies, I am exploring the meaning of "Being Okinawan" through life stories and individual narratives of Okinawan women born after 1972- the end of the official American occupation in Okinawa, in two social and cultural spaces: the city and the village. I am especially interested in the choreography of the identity-making process: how young Okinawan women discuss, interpret and talk about Okinawan identity and the social and cultural factors involved in the "Okinawan self-perception." Through ethnographic research in Okinawa, I explore the relations and complexity between identity, gender, and place. By doing so, I hope to contribute to the question of Okinawan identity and the discussion regarding homogeneity and ethnicity in Japan.
Supervisor: Prof. Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni