Musical crossings over the militarised borderland

A case study of the Ogasawara Islands

Authored by: Shishikura Masaya

Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138917507
eBook ISBN: 9781315688978
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter proposes an alternative view of the borderland beyond militarised confinement and restriction. It explores several cases of musical crossings of the Ogasawara Islands, located in the borderland of Japan. The Ogasawara Islands were uninhabited until 1830 when five Westerners with some 20 people from Hawai‘i first migrated to one of the islands, called Chichi Jima. Since then, the island residents have suffered Japanese colonialism (1870s), the Pacific War (1941–45), segregation under the US Navy (1946–68), and reversion to Japanese administration (1968). Despite this history of militarisation, which put restrictions on human mobility and actions around the islands, a variety of musical activities can nevertheless be observed in Ogasawara today. These various crossings of peoples and cultures represent local contestations against the militarised boundaries created by nation states. This chapter illustrates musical travels and passages across borders, and presents a dynamic vision of the borderland that celebrates crossing, mobility, and transborder networks.

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