As with many post-colonial writers, contemporary Okinawan writers are faced with a language dilemma. There is no single, neutral language upon which they can unthinkingly draw. Instead they must choose between variants of their native, local or ancestral tongues, the tongue of the colonizer (standardized Japanese) or some combination thereof. This paper examines how two contemporary writers, the poet Takara Ben and the novelist Medoruma Shun, integrate the language dilemma into their works and employ it as a mechanism for redefining contemporary Okinawan subjectivity vis-à-vis mainland Japan. The paper examines how both writers use Okinawan/Ryūkyūan languages in their texts to resist the hegemonic dominance of mainland Japanese culture, language, historical narratives and identity. Through an analysis of the writers’ use of language, self-translation, historical narratives and local culture I argue that the works function on a performative level to introduce a ‘strategic opacity’ into the texts in order to delimit the gaze of the mainland reader, to reject Japanese ethnocentrism and assert the existence of Okinawan difference.
|Title of host publication||Self-Translation: Brokering Originality in Hybrid Culture|
|Place of Publication||London and New York|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|