Title page for ETD etd-11122008-230632

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Gottlieb, Matthew
URN etd-11122008-230632
Title Is It Nationalism? History’s Impact on Okinawan Identity
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Nelson, Scott C. Committee Chair
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Member
Natter, Wolfgang George Committee Member
  • Identity
  • Nationalism
  • Okinawa
Date of Defense 2008-10-28
Availability unrestricted
Consisting of a subtropical archipelago south of the Japanese mainland, playing host to a bevy of American military bases, and once the semi-independent kingdom of Ryukyu, Okinawa holds a unique and contentious place within the Tokyo-run nation-state. The central argument found in these pages suggests that a new look at the islands’ identity along two tracks—a “high track” that focuses on the grander objects of the region’s history such as castles or monuments and a “low track” dwelling on day-to-day matters such purchasing a meal or watching a sporting event—shows Okinawa evolving into a sub-state nation solidly within Japan. As the southern realm continues developing its unique identity, fulfilling the high track’s symbolism, it allows greater economic and political integration with the nation-state, showing the power of the low track. This process is not steady, but these developments provide the smoothest path for full integration with Tokyo.

Additionally, the philosophical divisions applied here allow unification between divergent approaches to nationalist theory. The bended-knee view of the region’s nationalism allows Anthony D. Smith’s The Ethnic Origin of Nations with its emphasis on history and ethnie to coexist with the every-day approach found in Banal Nationalism by Michael Billig and Ernest Gellner’s Nations and Nationalism. These political observers seemingly holding opposing viewpoints actually work as a team. The results of this combined approach can be found all across Okinawa in ordinary places such as vending machines, professional wrestling, and license plates.

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