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AlegalBiopolitics and the Unintelligibility of Okinawan Life$
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Annmaria M. Shimabuku

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823282661

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823282661.001.0001

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Okinawa, 1945–1952: Allegories of Becoming

Okinawa, 1945–1952: Allegories of Becoming

Chapter:
(p.38) Chapter 2 Okinawa, 1945–1952: Allegories of Becoming
Source:
Alegal
Author(s):

Annmaria M. Shimabuku

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823282661.003.0003

Chapter 2 gives a brief biopolitical prehistory to Okinawa. From the perspective of economic development, it was not treated like a national or colonial territory by the Japanese state, but ambiguously suspended in between both. This foregrounded the sexual politics surrounding the U.S. military in Okinawa because unlike mainland Japan, there was no development of a middle class equipped to reject the formation of a sex industry in base towns on the basis of an established ethno-nationalism. Hence, in contrast to the symbolic structure of Japanism presented in Chapter 1, this chapter positions Okinawa’s alegality in terms of Benjamin’s notion of allegory, or that which constantly fails communion with a totality. It argues that debates surrounding the establishment of a sex industry were driven by the sheer fear of exclusion from the biopolitical order, not by an identification with it, and were subsequently absent of discourses lamenting the racial contamination of the population. It traces the omnipresence of this fear through the Okinawan reception of so-called “comfort women” during the war, the experience of sexual violence and exploitation in the immediate postwar, and the formation of the sex industry after the “reverse course” of occupation in 1949.

Keywords:   allegory, Walter Benjamin, black Pacific, comfort woman system, military prostitution

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