My research focuses on the modern history of Japan and Okinawa, with particular attention toward the people and communities who engendered and participated in social movements. My manuscript, The Sunagawa Struggle: A Century of Anti-Base Protest in a Tokyo Suburb, explores one of the most important (and least known) social movements in modern Japanese history. The Struggle was a pioneering anti-US military base and runway expansion movement that began in 1955 in the Sunagawa district of Tachikawa, a Tokyo suburb. Since Tachikawa had been a military base community since 1916, my project is able to connect the Japanese imperial era with the postwar period by examining a long period of base-town relations. In doing so, mine is the first Anglophone project to take seriously the local history and experience of a community near a military base in Japan. Centered on the everyday lives of Japanese people who live in so-called basetowns, my project highlights structures of local communities that are interspersed with moments of direct, and often violent, opposition to military bases.
I work with multiple methodological approaches in my research. My project engages with urban history, politics, critical geography, and sociological methodologies. While archival sources form the backbone of my project, I also conducted interviews throughout Japan and drew from film and visual art. The interdisciplinary training I received at rigorous academic workshops and seminars in Tokyo, Beirut, Philadelphia, Tokyo, and Chapel Hill, have all informed my approach to critically understanding modern Japan and Okinawa.
My research and writing on social movements and anti-base protests in Okinawa, which played an important role in my helping me understand protests in Tokyo, has been published in Critical Asian Studies and 世界.
I am in the beginning phases of two other projects. In the first, which builds upon my current senior seminar course, I am researching the history of the famous brand of processed meat, Spam. Through legacies of militarism, colonization and decolonization, Spam (and other forms of processed and canned pork) has become a staple on tables throughout the Pacific and Asia. That Spam has evolved from emergency wartime ration to a deeply intimate food item in places like Okinawa, Guam, and Korea, tells us much about interrelated relationships between the U.S. military, changing food technologies, and local customs and cuisines. I intend for this to become my second manuscript project. Secondly, taking one of the most exciting cues from my dissertation, which looked at bases through the eyes of everyday Japanese communities, I will explore the ways that labor has evolved in modern Japan, particularly through the lens of the sarariiman (salaryman). The image of the white-collar worker cramming onto the morning commute trains or stumbling home after drinking with coworkers has become a powerful symbol of the Japanese workplace. Through the sararriman, I intend to interrogate questions of postwar masculinity and femininity, precarity, gendered labor, and consumption.