Dancing with the Dead: Memory, Performance, and Everyday by Christopher T. Nelson

By Christopher T. Nelson

Tough traditional understandings of time and reminiscence, Christopher T. Nelson examines how modern Okinawans have contested, appropriated, and reworked the burdens and probabilities of the earlier. Nelson explores the paintings of a circle of Okinawan storytellers, ethnographers, musicians, and dancers deeply engaged with the legacies of a brutal eastern colonial period, the virtually unbelievable devastation of the Pacific struggle, and a protracted American army profession that also casts its shadow over the islands. The ethnographic learn that Nelson carried out in Okinawa within the past due 1990s—and his broader attempt to appreciate Okinawans’ severe and inventive struggles—was encouraged by way of his first stopover at to the islands in 1985 as a lieutenant within the U.S. Marine Corps.

Nelson analyzes the practices of particular performers, exhibiting how thoughts are recalled, our bodies remade, and activities rethought as Okinawans paintings via fragments of the previous in an effort to reconstruct the material of daily life. Artists reminiscent of the preferred Okinawan actor and storyteller Fujiki Hayato weave jointly genres together with jap stand-up comedy, Okinawan celebratory rituals, and ethnographic stories of conflict reminiscence, encouraging their audiences to visualize alternative ways to stay within the sleek global. Nelson seems to be on the efforts of performers and activists to wrest the Okinawan previous from romantic representations of idyllic rural lifestyles within the jap media and reactionary appropriations of conventional values via conservative politicians. In his attention of eisā, the normal dance for the lifeless, Nelson unearths a convention that reaches past the predicted barriers of mourning and commemoration, because the dwelling and the useless come jointly to create a second during which a brand new international can be outfitted from the ruins of the outdated.

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Yet there is widespread resistance to the kinds of changes, such as greater social heterogeneity, that are required. Although foreign workers contribute to Japanese society, for example, they are not seriously regarded as part of Japan’s future (or present), and the same is true of unconventional groups like one-parent families and people who never marry. 65 The family, as the basic unit of society, has provided economic security in Japan, and the welfare state has been largely implemented through it.

Dependency, performance, and affect melded in a very particular architecture in these “Japanese” relationships of nestled (family/corporate) belonging. Men worked at companies ideally for life, entering a bond whose responsibilities bled beyond work to the personal and everyday. A company man would devote not only long hours to work but also evenings, weekends, and vacations to “leisure” (drinking, golf) spent in the company of fellow workers. 12 Such outings also kept a man from home, where complementary webs of duty and dependence were spun around mother and child(ren).

43. Sawako Shirahase, “Kōrei-ki o hitori de kurasu to iukoto” [Living alone in later life], Kikan Riron Keizaigaku 41, no. 2 (2005): 111–21. 44. pdf. The MHLW’s “Comprehensive Survey of People’s Living Conditions” (1986, 1995, 2004) gives income for the year just previous to the survey year. 45. We cannot overlook the high risk of economic hardship for elderly one-person households, even if the poverty rate declines. The median equivalent disposable income of elderly people living alone is less than 70 percent that of total households.

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