Okinawan Art in its Regional Context

External event

Thursday 10 October, 2019 - Friday 11 October, 2019
9:00am BST - 7:00pm BST

Council House, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ

The aim of the conference is to offer an international stage to distinguished scholars, and to discuss Okinawan arts and cultures. We hope to re-evaluate the significance of mutual influences among the islands of the Okinawan chain in regional, transregional, and transnational contexts.

This two-day conference will address the socio-cultural complexities of Okinawan identity over the course of history, and explore the intersection between art, politics, and identity from an interdisciplinary perspective. The object of the conference and its ensuing studies is to shed light on how Okinawan arts and cultures have been shaped by internal political situations and by a triple subjugation to the United States, Japan, and China.

In this conference, we will bring together a unique selection of scholars in art history, history, politics, sociology, and performing arts, primarily to identify historical and political processes behind art and cultural forms. Intended speakers would have all undertaken case studies of Okinawan art and culture, and how it relates to changing identities and regional struggles.

Keynote speakers from Japan

Prof. Junko Kobayashi (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)

Artist’s talk: Yuken Teruya (Artist based in New York city and Berlin)

Curator’s Talk: Ms Haruka Iharada (Independent curator, Japan)

Music Performance: Dr David W. Hughes (SOAS) and the London Okinawa Sanshinkai

Other speakers:
Dr Nobuyuki Hirakawa (Okinawa Prefecture)
Dr Hiroko Ikegami (Kobe University)
Dr David E. Little (the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College)
Ms Megumi Machida (Independent scholar)
Dr Ra Mason (UEA)
Mr Francesco Montuori (Leiden University)
Dr Setsuko Nitta (Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts)
Dr Seisaku Okuma (Waseda University)
Dr Richard Pegg (The MacLean Collection)
Ms Gabriela Shimabukuro (São Paulo State University (UNESP))
Dr Amanda Mayer Stinchecum (Independent Scholar)
De Travis Seifman (University of Tokyo)
Dr Eriko Tomizawa-Kay (UEA)
Ms Shino Yanai (UCL)
Dr Ayelet Zohar (Tel Aviv University)
Prof. Adrian Favell (University of Leeds)
Prof. Toshio Watanabe (SISJAC)
Dr Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer (SISJAC) etc.
Research Collaborator: Prof. Timon Screech (SOAS)


10th October (9 speakers) – Historical Overview

09.00 Registration
09.30 Welcome addresses
9.50 – 10.05 Introductory Remarks
Toshio Watanabe ‘Decolonization’
10:05 – 11.35 Session 1 – Ryukyu and China
Travis Seifman ‘Ryukyu procession scrolls’
Nobuyuki Hirakawa ‘History of Ryūkyū paintings: Early Modern Ryūkyū period’ 「琉球絵画の歴史―近世琉球期を中心に」 (Japanese)
Richard Pegg ‘For the Record: Chinese Conferment Missions to Ryūkyū from 1372-1866’

11.35 – 11.45 Break
11.45 – 13.15 Session 2– Okinawa and Japan
Francesco Montuori ‘Okinawa’s bashōfu and its repackaging after the Japanese annexation’
Setsuko Nitta ‘Oppression of and Admiration for Okinawan Textiles: Commercial Items and Art Objects’
Amanda Mayer Stinchecum ‘Changing parameters, expressions, and meanings of a simple sash from the Yaeyama Islands’

13.15-14.45 Lunch
14.45– 16.15 Keynote speaker:
Junko Kobayashi (Professor, Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts) ‘The Demise of Ryūkyū Painting’ 「琉球絵画の終焉 (Japanese)

16.15 – 16.45 Overall Discussion Chair: Toshio Watanabe
16.45 – 17.00  Break
17.00 – 18.00 Artist’s talk
Yuken Teruya (Artist based in New York City and Berlin)
18.00 – 19.00 Music Performance by David W Hughes (SOAS) and the London Okinawa Sanshinkai & Reception

11th October – Contemporary Practice

9:30 – 11:00 Session 3 – Contemporary Practice
Hiroko Ikegami ‘Genealogy of Okinawan Pop: Tom Max, Teruya Yuken and Aya Rodoriguez-Izumi’
David Little ‘Shōmei Tomatsu’s Okinawa: A Foreigner’s Interpretation’
Ayelet Zohar ‘Yamashiro Chikako’s The Woman in the Butcher Shop (2012): Okinawa as an Exchange Object, Between Japan and the USA’

11:00 – 11.15 Break
11:15 – 12.00 Haruka Iharada’s talk & Discussion (on Skype)

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
13.00 – 14.30 Session 4 – Okinawa and U.S.
Ra Mason ‘Sports Islands Okinawa’
Seisaku Okuma ‘Dollar and Art’ 「ドルと美術」 (Japanese)
Megumi Machida ‘Vision of an Okinawan No-No Boy: Works by Hideo Kobashigawa’

14:30 – 14:40 Break
14.40 – 16.10 Session 5 – Taboo, Censorship and Diaspora
Eriko Tomizawa-Kay ‘Art and Remembrance: The Depiction of The Battle of Okinawa’
Gabriela Shimabukuro ‘Asadoya Yunta: from resisting to loving the colonizer’
Shino Yanai ‘Taboo and Humour’

16.20 – 17.20 Overall Discussion and Future Research Project

17:30 – 18:30 Reception

This conference is free to attend.


The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation
Japan Foundation

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This event is part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020


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