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Title: Culture and power in the context of the Okinawan-Hawaiian diaspora : imagining the homeland, return and remaking identities
Author: Higa, H. K.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2012
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In 1900, a group of Okinawans sailed to Honolulu aboard the SS China in order to escape the hardships of Japanese colonization in Okinawa. Over a century later, their descendants represent the largest Okinawan diaspora in the world today. This study examines the divergent trajectories of cultural development through the diaspora and the homeland, demonstrating that aspects of the venerated ideals of traditional Okinawan culture were preserved in the diaspora while the homeland suffered assimilation with the Japanese. The significance of the comparison is that through a cultural renewal contemporary diasporans recognize the differences and are motivated through homeland imagining to engage in a return movement of support. This study is timely for several reasons. It fills a void in the investigation of Okinawan Hawaiians through the common Oral History approach which has been diminished due to the loss of first and second generation diasporans. The exploration of signifiers of culture, as lived and practiced, provides insights into cultural identity which have consequences for the diaspora and the homeland - at a time when the mature diaspora faces important directional shifts beyond the cultural renewal and historically-based oppression in the homeland is reaching a critical stage, including the possibilities of full Japanese assimilation, Okinawan language extinction, and the permanence of U.S. military base entrenchment. This study employs a diasporic framework adjoined with ethnographic observations for the examination of the interplay of culture and power through the Okinawan Hawaiian diaspora. The multicultural setting of Hawaii and a double-diaspora, double-minority factor - a constant comparison between the Okinawans and Japanese in Hawaii - reveal delineations of culture and set up the comparisons with the development of culture in the homeland over time. The divergent cultural outcomes represent a neglected focus in diaspora studies - the significance of social class considerations of the diasporan community. Okinawan oppression in the homeland is examined through conceptions aligned with misrecognition and the impediments to human flourishing, revealing the depth of the hardships and the strategies of control by the colonizing forces. Finally, the investigation into the Okinawan-Hawaiian diaspora allows insights into the role of culture in diaspora theorization.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available