ONLINE: In Search of Incarcerated Okinawans : A Conversation On Decolonizing Japanese America

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Community Event

Aug 202015
2:00p.m. - 3:00p.m.


WATCH THIS EVENT LIVE on YouTube on August 15:

If you have any questions, please visit the Facebook event page

Presented as part of the JAMPilgrimages Tadaima! Virtual Pilgrimage

When discussing the wartime incarceration sites, we speak almost exclusively of Japanese Americans. This works to erase the fact that there were also a significant number of individuals Okinawan descent who were incarcerated. While some Okinawans may prefer to identify as Japanese American, this must be understood in a context where Okinawans were navigating anti-Asian racism from the United States government as well as anti-Okinawan racism from the larger Japanese community. The camps, along with many other sites across time and space, have been places where Okinawans have had to fight double colonialism at the hands of both Japanese and American nationalisms.

After doing basic research I found that there was little to no information about the experiences of Okinawans as a collective in the incarceration sites. This conversation will attempt to conjure our Okinawan ancestors and give space for them to live and breathe in their full complexity - acknowledging this means navigating many omissions and silences.

Furthermore, as Okinawans come to terms with their colonized status within a Japanese context, this ancestral strength might help us to better understand our personal complicity in the violent mechanisms of Japanese American settler colonialism that continue to impede on and do harm to the Indigenous Nations upon which we have settled and developed our lives. How can we use our stories to help us confront our ongoing role as settlers on this continent? How might we stand in better solidarity with the Indigenous communities whose land we are actively colonizing?

This program will include poetry by Sho and a sanshin performance by Joseph Kamiya.

Poster by Joseph Kamiya featuring art by Okinawan Kibei-Nisei Hideo Kobashigawa


Joseph Kamiya is a sanshin artist and fourth-generation Asian American with Ryūkyūan (Tamagusuku/Awase) and Japanese (Fukuoka) roots.

Sho is a Yonsei writer and wanderer. His grandmother’s family(⼭城)immigrated to the Los Angeles area from Taminato, a village in the Yanbaru rainforest in northern Okinawa. His grandfather’s family(⽥中)emigrated from Buzen Shoe, Fukuoka to Tlingit territory settling in Juneau, Alaska. He believes that through sharing food and story we can work to heal legacies of violence that have accumulated within our collective body, mind, and spirit.


josephkamiya . Last modified Aug 07, 2020 10:10 a.m.


August 2020


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