This is a one-day event being held in order to create a dialogue on issues of race and gender in the study of Okinawa, and to contemplate the relationship between the study of Japan and the study of Okinawa.
We will initiate this dialogue with a lecture by photographer Ishikawa Mao, whose work explores the complex relationships of gender, race, and national identity in Okinawa and Japan. Her works have included including candid photographs of African American servicemen and their Okinawan and Japanese wives and girlfriends in Okinawa in the 1970s; and portraits of Japanese and Okinawan people with the national flag of Japan, interacting with it in various ways to demonstrate their complicated and often troubled relationship with the nation of Japan. Ishikawa is to give a slide show and talk about her work, focussing on her photographs of African American servicemen.
In the afternoon, we will hold a discussion between scholars, students, and members of the public, to be led by Professor Wendy Matsumura (UCSD) and Professor Annmaria Shimabuku (NYU), who, from the fields of cultural studies, sociology, and history, have been engaged in thinking about the role of Okinawan studies and its place in Japanese studies more generally. We will discuss what it means to study Okinawa in the American academy, and, drawing on Ishikawa's work, we will examine the complicated role of race and gender in Japanese studies and Okinawan studies.
Ishikawa Mao is an Okinawan photographer, who has been active since the 1970s. Having studied with Tomatsu Shomei in Tokyo, she went on to photograph soldiers and locals in Okinawa and Japan, and over 40 years has created a candid and intimate style of photography which humanizes her subjects while also offering political critique.
Wendy Matsumura is assistant professor of history at the University of California, San Diego. She works on Okinawan history, as well as the history of labor and race in the Japanese Empire. Her book, The Limits of Okinawa: Japanese Capitalism, Living Labor, and Theorizations of Community, was published by Duke University Press in 2015.
Annmaria Shimabuku is assistant professor of East Asian Studies at New York University. She works on postcolonial feminism and theories of race in Japan, Okinawa, and beyond.