The Newsletter 71 Summer 2015

The view from the islands. Musical crossings of the Ogasawara Islands

Masaya Shishikura

This article aims to present an alternative way to see the borderland beyond national boundaries. Through the case of the Ogasawara Islands, it explicates ‘the view from the islands’ that contests with the concept of the border defi ned by the nation-state. Just like many places in so-called borderland regions, the Ogasawara Islands have been marginalized and militarized for many years, and a major military base of Japan Self-Defense Forces still remains there. From the point of view of the state, it is crucial to militarily secure these islands, which lie on the edge of Japanese territory, for reasons of defense. However, in the islanders’ view, Ogasawara has never been located at the periphery of one single nation, preserving its own expanding locus towards many others. To clarify this view from the islands, the article suggests utilizing music and dance, vital media to illustrate human bonds that transcend national borders. Ogasawara musical culture exemplifies multiple connections of the islands with other places and peoples, and suggests an alternative vision of the borderland that celebrates crossing, mobility, and trans-border networks.