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Performing Identity In Yaeyama: The Case Of The Sash

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines a different kind of tradition, an invented tradition that has been created and then used to symbolize a people in their own public presentation of themselves. The author's investigation of an unassuming sash from the Yaeyama island group of Okinawa, shows why and how new ethnic and regional identities are created. The chapter discusses when and why the construction of a new regional identity became necessary to the people of Yaeyama, and how this process took place. It then locates the sash in space and time, beginning with the annexation of the Ryūkyū kingdom by Japan and the creation of Okinawa prefecture in 1879. It transitions to the post-Second World War period in Okinawa, when tourism development began in the prefecture. The chapter reviews the conditions in Yaeyama today that have necessitated the creation of a new identity, and an invented tradition to authenticate it.

Keywords: invented tradition; new regional identity; Ryūkyū kingdom; sash; tourism development; Yaeyama island



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