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Heritage Politics


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Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter 1: Of Ruptures and Returns: Okinawa in the Japanese national imaginary Chapter 2: Saving Shuri Castle: Ito Chuta and the discovery of Okinawa's cultural heritage Chapter 3: Remembering Okinawa Shrine Chapter 4: Defining Cultural Heritage: the Mingei movement in Okinawa Chapter 5: Returns and Repetitions: the uses of Okinawa's cultural heritage in the postwar period Conclusion

About the Author

Tze May Loo is assistant professor of history and international studies at the University of Richmond.


Heritage Politics is worth the time to read. * The Journal of Japanese Studies *
Heritage Politics: Shuri Castle and Okinawa's Incorporation into Modern Japan, 1879-2000 is a powerful critical examination of the central lieu de memoire in Okinawa, and-as Loo persuasively argues-one more broadly important to Japan itself: Shuri Castle. Her study is more than a survey of the transformation of the structure over time, with its successive destructions and reconstructions, although her narrative does address that through a meticulous examination of the fragmentary primary materials that survived the Pacific War. The castle becomes the occasion for a complex and nuanced exploration of the social and political transformation of the Okinawan people following the islands' incorporation into the modern Japanese state at the close of the 19th Century. Shuri first comes to stand for the disestablished monarchy, as it is erased it from popular discourses and falls into near total ruin. At the same time, it is subject to fascinating appropriations by colonial bureaucrats, mainland academics and local activists, who figure it variously as a sign of a common Japanese and Okinawan heritage, a marker of uneven development, and an index of local subordination to central authority. Most interestingly, it becomes a powerful ritual space in an emerging Japanese imperial ideology, a site that authorizes the articulation of local notions of filial piety and obeisance with a newly-constructed doctrine of absolute and unquestioning loyalty to the emperor of Japan. Loo provides a brilliant critique of this ideology in a detailed study of its material and practical underpinnings, exposing complex and ambiguous dimensions of colonial rule, local accommodation and resistance. -- Christopher Nelson, University of North Carolina
Heritage Politics provides a deeply researched and nuanced account of the transformations undergone by Shuri Castle as an iconic site of struggle over Okinawan and Japanese identity. Tze May Loo compellingly demonstrates the necessity of joining close analysis of material culture with critical interrogation of colonialism and imperialism in both the prewar and postwar periods. Her work thus represents an important contribution to multiple fields, including art and architectural history, cultural policy and heritage studies, Asian intellectual and political history, and colonial studies. -- Noriko Aso, University of California, Santa Cruz

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