Current Anthropology 2004

Inoue, Masamichi S. We Are Okinawans But of a Different Kind. Current Anthropology February, 2004 Vol. 45:85-104.

In this article, Masamichi S. Inoue addresses the changing and conflicting identities of the Okinawa people in their interaction with the government of mainland Japan and the United States of America. Inoue delves into how the political-economic structures, created during the aftermath of World War II, shaped the varying identities that the Okinawan people expressed. He specifically looks at Okinawan identities that emerge during the dispute over building an offshore base for the United States military.

In the article, Inoue uses both the history of Okinawa and his own fieldwork to explain the varieties of identity that emerged in Okinawa. To begin with, Inoue gives a brief background on Okinawa. He explains how its location makes it spatially remote from the mainland Japan and has created a different expression of cultural identity for Okinawans. He then explains how Okinawan people have historically been in the crossfire between the governments of Japan and the United States of America.
Inoue then goes on to explain the identity that he calls “Okinawans but of a different kind” (78). He specifically writes about how this identity emerges in the area of Henoko after they accepted the creation of a post war American military base in their community. The people of Henoko then received both community improvements from the American base and money from the government of mainland Japan which created an entirely new social landscape and structure. Eventually, a new identity developed in Henoko, a blending of traditional Okinawan distinctiveness and acceptance of the new interdependence to the American base.

Inoue also describes an Okinawan identity that rejects the presence of the American military bases on the island. Part of this identity was based on the traditional Okinawan native distinctness. Another part was based on “agedness” (91) or the difficult experiences that the older Okinawans had during the second World War. This anti-base identity was expanded further during a dispute over building an American offshore-base. During this dispute, Inoue explains, the pro-base identity clashed with the anti-base identity and it was during this clash the anti-base identity began to embrace different ideologies including, “peace, women’s rights, and ecology” (94). Inoue continues that while the anti-base group did win the initial vote against the base, the pro-base group won in the end. He explains that it was the variety of ideologies and distance that the anti-base group had that distanced them from the local community. It was that distance that eventually fragmented their identity and ability to resist, and allowed the pro-base community to win the dispute.

Inoue concludes his article by emphasizing the “romance of resistance” (97). He explains the importance of looking into “everyday politics” because of their relation to the larger power systems. He concludes we must continue to look into and critique the systems of power because they “manipulate local life” (97) not just in Okinawa but everywhere around the world.

CLARITY: 3
DANIELLE COSTELLO Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart).

Nicholas, George P. and Bannister, Kelly P. Copyrighting the Past? Emerging Intellectual Property Rights Issues in Archaeology. Current Anthropology June, 2004 Vol. 45:327-350.

In this article, George P. Nicholas and Kelly P. Bannister address the emerging issue of intellectual property rights within the field of archaeology. Nicholas and Bannister discuss how legal ownership might be applied to the intellectual products that emerge out of the archaeological process. They also specifically discuss the importance of examining intellectual property rights within the field and the challenges that lie within trying to implement such ownership.

The authors begin by raising the question of who owns the property that is produced by the archaeological process. They point out that regardless of that answer, the legal protections given to products of archaeology, due to a variety of reasons, are generally that of physical property. The more intangible products of knowledge and intellectual property are generally left out of archaeological laws. Having outlined the lack of legislative protection for intellectual property rights in archaeology, the authors then proceed to identify all the cultural and intellectual products that emerge out of archaeology. Such products include, symbols of identity, sites expressing a cultural world view and cultural continuity, and traditional ecological knowledge.

The authors then talk about the problem of how many of these cultural artifacts are appropriated and commoditized. In this section, Nicholas and Bannister specifically delve into the problems of not having adequate legislation and definitions to address the issue of intellectual property gained from archaeological research. Such intellectual property included studies on the traditions of particular groups, the ownership of human remains, the reconstruction of historic ways of life, and alternative applications of archaeological knowledge. They talk about how different these types of information generated by archaeology are bought and sold around the world without any universal governing body to control the process.

Nicholas and Bannister then discuss the importance of dealing with the subject of intellectual property rights in the field of archaeology before it becomes a pressing problem. They talk about the issue of controlling the future of the past and how those that are able to control it now are able to control how the past is seen later. They also talk of a growing movement of indigenous people to guard more strictly intellectual property rights and to gain total ownership of their cultural knowledge. These people are even going so far as to claim ownership to all the information found during the archeological research done by the archeologist.

The authors end by reiterating the importance of addressing the issue of intellectual property rights in archaeology right now. They go on to emphasis that much can be learned from other disciplines, such as ethnobotany, that have struggled with similar issues. Ending, they urge a model of co-operation and co-ownership between archaeologists and indigenous people as a solution to the property rights issue.

CLARITY: 4
DANIELLE COSTELLO Valdosta State University (Melissa Rinehart).