Sacred Springs and Military Bases: Tangible Cultural Asset Protection in an Okinawan Context


Surrounded by sparkling coral seas with a distinctive local culture and history, Okinawa prefecture is a popular tourist destination for mainland Japanese and foreigners alike; however, Okinawa is also a colonial possession and the location of 70% of the American military bases in Japan. Unlike cultural heritage protection emergencies in times of war or natural disaster, the conflicts in contemporary Okinawan cities are part of the everyday sociocultural subtext and span centuries of urban development. Against a Ryukyuan historical backdrop that includes both devastating armed conflict and political cooperation between Okinawans, Japanese and Americans, how does the indigenous population of this small island prefecture preserve the material structures of its cultural heritage in the midst of this highly contested physical and political landscape? This question is explored through the Kiyuna Ruins, which are wedged between the outer fence of the Camp Foster American Military base and route 81, a busy highway through the growing city of Ginowan. Viewing the preservation of the Kiyuna ruins as a form of Castells' (1983) 'urban social movementā€¯ (as cited in Sham, 2015) this paper investigates the conditions of tangible cultural asset protection in Okinawa as a theoretical, cultural, and physical negotiation of space and place within a postmodern city.

Author Information
Samantha May

Paper Information
Conference: HCNY2018
Stream: Heritage Perception and Management

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon