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Title: (Re)locating identities in the ancestral homeland : the complexities of belonging among the migrants from Peru in Okinawa
Author: Kawabata, Miki
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2011
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This dissertation examines the practices and discourses of migrants of Okinawan descent from Peru around one of the major turning points in their lives, the experience of (re)location to Okinawa, and explores their shifting sense of belonging through an ethnographic approach. Since the late 1980s, Nikkei-jin - people of Japanese descent - have come from Peru to live and work in Japan as a result of an economic downturn and sociopolitical instabilities in Peru, and labour shortages in Japan. Often subsumed under this category of Nikkei-jin are people of Okinawan descent, who are the focus of this study. Primarily based on intensive fieldwork between 1996 and 1998 in Okinawa City, this research explores various sites in which migrants from Peru in Okinawa construct, reflect, negotiate and reconfigure their identities. It looks into migrants' economic activities, ritual participations, and social networks that affect their identity narratives and cultural negotiation processes. Through a historical analysis, it also examines how and why Okinawan-Peruvian migrants' subjectivity is transformed in different political and socio-economic settings. The study finds that migrants' experience of relocation to their 'ancestral home' did not necessarily lead to instant integration and identification with their local 'co-ethnics', due to their status as newcomers, downward mobility to working class and an inability to maximise their cultural capital in the new setting. As a consequence, while they came to be incorporated into Okinawan munchu kinship, discovered Okinawan dimensions in what they had previously conceived unitarily as Nikkei and began to find 'home' in Okinawa, they also began engaging in a transnational way of belonging through forming social networks of their own, thus destabilising the unitary notion of 'Okinawanness'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available