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Title:Okinawan borderlands: the history of the U.S. occupation of Okinawa, 1945-1972
Author(s):Takauchi, Yuki
Director of Research:Hoganson, Kristin
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hoganson, Kristin
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Burton, Antoinette; Espiritu, Augusto F; Somerville, Siobhan B; Toyoda, Maho
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):U.S. imperialism
women's history
Okinawan Studies
Abstract:This dissertation examines how Okinawan women under the US occupation negotiated with overlapping structures of power—the American occupying power, Japanese nationalism, and the Okinawan patriarchy—during the US occupation of Okinawa (1945-1972). Okinawan women came into close contact with the almost exclusively-male occupiers, sometimes by choice and other times by force. US occupiers depended on and exploited Okinawan women, taking advantage of their labor in various forms, from sex work to domestic work. Okinawan women’s unique proximity to US occupiers made them the target of control from both US and Okinawan authorities, while US soldiers seeking intimate contact with Okinawan women were left unwatched. Thus, I argue that the category of “Okinawan women” occupied a specific social, legal, and cultural location in-between occupiers and occupied, refusing the tendency in historiography to subsume women under the implicitly male-gendered collective identity of the Okinawans. As much as Okinawa was the “keystone” of the US military hegemony in the Pacific, management of the category of “Okinawan women” was the “keystone” of governing the Ryukyu Islands. Their location in Okinawan family and their relations with the occupiers were the key questions for the stability of US-Okinawan relations. Particularly, US and Okinawan authorities were bound together with the desire to control bodies and sexuality of those who had sexual relations with US soldiers, who were deemed “fallen” women for their failure to meet patriarchal moral standards. The heteronormative patriarchal discourse that excluded “fallen” women from the category of “Okinawan women” justified their stigmatization and exploitation, while keeping women in Okinawa under the normative power of patriarchy. Thus, when we see the occupier-occupied relationship from the perspective of Okinawan women, it became clear that the relationship between US and Okinawan authorities was not an oppositional binary. Women in Okinawa faced different forms of compounding patriarchies—US occupying power, Japanese colonialism, and Okinawan patriarchy—in their effort to optimize their lives under the US occupation.
Issue Date:2021-11-29
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Yuki Takauchi
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-04-29
Date Deposited:2021-12

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