Wendy Matsumura, a historian and the author of The Limits of Okinawa: Japanese Capitalism, Living Labour, and Theorizations of Community joins the show to discuss the history of Okinawa through a historical materialist perspective.
We focus primarily on the history of agrarian class struggles in pre-WWII Okinawa, and how the perception of Okinawa as a culturally distinct space and exotic hinterland is closely tied to the uneven development of capitalism in Japan through the colonization of territories such as Korea, Taiwan, the Ainu Mosir, and the Ryukyu Kingdom, as well as the preservation of pre-capitalist social relations in the countryside. We discuss how the Okinawan bourgeoisie, workers, and peasants struggled against this semi-feudal colonial rule and for competing visions of autonomy.
We also discuss how the mass migration of working class Okinawans overseas and the subsequent formation of diasporic Okinawan communities shaped their politics and experience of the wartime atrocities, and how the US occupation continued the capitalist enclosure of agricultural lands. We conclude our discussion by talking about the limits of coalition politics in post-WWII Okinawa, and the importance of a global perspective in critiquing and opposing militarism and capitalist imperialism.
See the full script of my introduction here. Read Wendy's work on post-WWII Okinawa here.
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