My research is concerned with the colonial dimensions of the modern Japanese nation state, in both its prewar and wartime imperial expansion, and also in how colonialism functioned in the making of modern Japan itself. I am interested in how the Japanese state reproduces itself and its power, and I pay attention to two technologies of government in particular. The first is how the Japanese state power makes itself felt through objects of material culture and cultural heritage; secondly, I am interested in the prewar Japanese state’s to discipline the country’s religious landscape through the construction and deployment of State Shinto. I also trace how subjects of the Japanese state resist or contest these same technologies.
My book, Heritage Politics: Shuri Castle and Okinawa’s Incorporation into Modern Japan, 1879-2000 examines how Japan, America during its 27-year rule of the islands, and Okinawan people use Okinawa’s cultural heritage – particularly its iconic Shuri Castle – to negotiate and articulate the islands’ relationship to the Japanese mainland. While Japanese and the U.S. attempted to use the islands’ cultural heritage to discipline Okinawans according to their political agendas, Okinawans used representations of their cultural heritage as a powerful way to act against these larger powers and to negotiate a more equitable position for themselves within the Japanese national imaginary.
I am currently working on a new project that traces the Japanese state’s attempt to transpose Okinawa’s indigenous utaki-centered religion into the universe of State Shinto in the prewar period.
“Escaping its Past: Recasting the Grand Shrine of Ise.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 11:3 (2010), 375-392.
* Also available in Japanese as “Kako kara no da’shutsu: Ise dai jingū no sai kōchiku,” trans. by Takahashi Norihito for Kokugakuin University, 21st Century of Excellence Program, Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture, 2013 (http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/articlesintranslation/)
“Shuri Castle’s Other History: Architecture and Empire in Okinawa", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 41-1-09, October 12, 2009.
“Historical Reconciliation in Southeast Asia: Notes from Singapore” in Melissa Nobles and Jun-Hyeok Kwak (eds.), Historical Reconciliation and Inherited Responsibility (New York: Routledge, 2013).
“Rearticulating Belonging: The Postwar Rebuilding of Shuri Castle” in Nagai Hiroko and Tito Vincente (eds.), Memories, Monuments and Media: Representations of Conflicts and Creation of Histories in Asia (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2012).
Ph.D., Cornell University
M.A., Cornell University
M.A., National University of Singapore
B.A., University of Sydney (Honors)
Modern Japanese history
Modern Chinese history