Research report: historical amnesia and the “neo-imperial gaze” in the Okinawa boom

The Japanese perceptions of Hawai’i and Okinawa today share funda-mental similarities: Both postcolonial island chains are appreciated asstereotypical tropical paradises with beautiful beaches and untouchednature, where gentleness (yasashisa) and healing (iyashi) await the visi-tor. However, although affirmative, such interchangeable images obscurenot only the social, economic, and political reality, but also the histori-cally grown oppression. The questions thus arise whether these imagesare part of cultural discourses of power and whether they follow a con-scious or unconscious “neo-imperial” agenda employed to silence subal-tern Pacific voices.This paper examines the interwoven structure of the Okinawa boom(200122009) and the “healing boom” (iyashi būmu) in mainland Japan.Locating the two islands in a Pacific framework, statistical data of Oki-nawa and Hawai’i will be investigated to demonstrate how analogouspostcolonial and “neo-imperial” issues actually are. Exemplarily, theNHK television drama Churasan of 2001 and Yoshimoto Banana’stravel diary Nankurunaku, nai (‘What Will Be, Will Not Be’) of 2006will be investigated with the aim of uncovering trajectories of colonialagency and thus elucidate what political roles mass tourism, its media,and popular agents play in the power framework of “neo-imperial” op-pression in the Pacific.


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