Indigenization and opacity: Self-translation in the Okinawan/Ryūkyūan writings of Takara Ben and Medoruma Shun

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSelf-Translation: Brokering Originality in Hybrid Culture
    Editors Anthony Cordingley
    Place of PublicationLondon and New York
    PublisherBloomsbury
    Pages141-155
    Edition1st
    ISBN (Print)9781441125415
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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