Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Urban Planning, University of California / Los Angeles
Taking Apart the Empire: Urban Military Land Conversion and Indigenous Resurgence in Okinawa

This dissertation is about geographies of war and peace in Okinawa, which is one of the densest extraterritorial outposts of U.S. Militarism in the World. Okinawans themselves have never ceded their islands willingly to the Japanese government, which annexed the independent Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879 to form the Prefecture of Okinawa, nor to the U.S. Military whose 23 bases spread across Okinawa's main island have gone relatively uninterrupted since the conclusion of World War II. In the contemporary round of protest in Okinawa (1996-present), the US-Japan Security Alliance has issued political commitments to reduce the number of military bases spread throughout the islands, responding to the disproportionate harms Okinawans experience stemming from base proximity. While no significant demilitarization has occurred in Okinawa in the aggregate as yet, in the City of Ginowan, a number of instances of military land conversion have occurred along the edges of the gargantuan Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which occupies the center of the municipality. Beginning in earnest in January, 2020, I will conduct in-depth qualitative fieldwork in Ginowan, to understand: (1) the ways in which Okinawans have driven these processes of land restitution forward; (2) how state-led planning is being used to imagine a new post-military future in the City; and (3) how Indigenous resurgence in Okinawa is occurring alongside these instances of land conversion, setting them apart from other cases of military base closure which themselves are relatively new to planning research. My dissertation culminates in an ethnographic case study of jurisdictional rescaling and Indigenous resurgence in the Okinawan city of Ginowan, and answers important questions concerning the opportunities and limits of planning to advance Indigenous justice in settler colonial cities.