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"Phantom Japan: Okamoto Taro and the Anthropology of Sacrifice in Okinawa" with Christopher Nelson, University of North Carolina
"Phantom Japan: Okamoto Taro and the Anthropology of Sacrifice in Okinawa" with Christopher Nelson, University of North Carolina
WhenThursday, May 10, 2018, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Campus locationAllen Library (ALB)
Campus roomAllen Auditorium
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsUW Japan Studies Program
Description

In 2011, the Okinawa Prefecture Museum held an exhibition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Japanese artist and ethnologist Okamoto Taro* who was perhaps the most well-known Japanese artist of the postwar era. This exhibition intended to celebrate his longstanding interest in Okinawa culture, but brought allegations of his desecration of tombs, precipitating a caustic debate about colonial authority and the appropriation of Okinawan everyday life. Nelson explores the concern with sacrifice that informed Okamoto’s work and looks at the interrelationship between his nativist valorization of organic totality, his commitment to transformative action, and his relationship to the annihilation of community that marked the end of the Pacific War.
*Okamoto is surname

Christopher T. Nelson is a cultural anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Since 1996, he has been conducting fieldwork in Okinawa, Japan. His research interests include the relationship between history and memory; the critical study of everyday life; storytelling, ritual and performance; value, exchange and sacrifice. His first book, Dancing With the Dead: Memory, Performance and Everyday Life in Postwar Okinawa (Duke University Press, 2008) considered the ways in which ordinary people come to grips with the burden of their past. He is currently at work on a project entitled, Dreaming of the Dragon King: Death, Sacrifice and Creative Action, an ethnography of laborers, artists, ethnologists, political activists, shaman and the dead in contemporary Japan. Nelson is a co-editor of the open access journal, Cultural Anthropology.

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