Historic Environment as an Opposing Element to Inequalities

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 2:45 PM
Room: 503
Oral Presentation
Hiroyuki TORIGOE , Waseda University, Japan
Taketomi Island in Okinawa Prefecture is one of the outer islands near the southwest border of Japan. Its islanders have suffered two-fold inequalities for years. The area of Okinawa Prefecture was a small independent nation until 1879. This nation was defeated by Japan and subsequently annexed by the national government. Afterward, mainland Japanese, especially uneducated ones, began to regard these islanders with contempt as defeated people. Another source of inequality was the location of the island, which was peripheral, even during its era as a small nation; the people of this small nation considered Taketomi islanders as non-cultured people. This tendency continued even after Taketomi’s incorporation into Japan. 

However, the “historic environment” that Taketomi islanders have preserved and created through an active movement in the last 30 years has changed their dismal situation dramatically. Preserving historic sites did not affect the situational changes per se, but it elicited widespread discussion of common shared values and examination of the daily lives of islanders. As such, Taketomi residents have created peculiar historic environments, which attract many visitors and tourists.