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The Bonin Islanders, 1830 to the Present By David Chapman

The Bonin Islanders, 1830 to the Present by David Chapman

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This book examines the social and cultural history of the Bonin Islands and its inhabitants from the first settlements in the early nineteenth century to today. It provides a critical approach to understanding how communities create local narratives while located between powerful nations and national discourses.

The Bonin Islanders, 1830 to the Present Summary

The Bonin Islanders, 1830 to the Present: Narrating Japanese Nationality by David Chapman

This book is a collection of interwoven historical narratives that present an intriguing and little known account of the Ogasawara (Bonin) archipelago and its inhabitants. The narratives begin in the seventeenth century and weave their way through various events connected to the ambitions, hopes, and machinations of individuals, communities, and nations. At the center of these narratives are the Bonin Islanders, originally an eclectic mix of Pacific Islanders, Americans, British, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and African settlers that first landed on the islands in 1830. The islands were British sovereign territory from 1827 to 1876, when the Japanese asserted possession of the islands based on a seventeenth century expedition and a myth of a samurai discoverer. As part of gaining sovereign control, the Japanese government made all island inhabitants register as Japanese subjects of the national family register. The islanders were not literate in Japanese and had little experience of Japanese culture and limited knowledge of Japanese society, but by 1881 all were forced or coerced into becoming Japanese subjects. By the 1930s the islands were embroiled in the Pacific War. All inhabitants were evacuated to the Japanese mainland until 1946 when only the descendants of the original settlers were allowed to return. In the postwar period the islands fell under U.S. Navy administration until they were reverted to full Japanese sovereignty in 1968. Many descendants of these original settlers still live on the islands with family names such as Washington, Gonzales, Gilley, Savory, and Webb. This book explores the social and cultural history of these islands and its inhabitants and provides a critical approach to understanding the many complex narratives that make up the Bonin story.

The Bonin Islanders, 1830 to the Present Reviews

Through a careful consideration of personal accounts, collective memory, government records from Japanese and European countries, presettlement travel records of explorers, and so on, Chapman weaves together the multiple narratives that form the many strands that make up the very fabric of Bonin history.... The scope of the work is truly impressive. * The Journal of Japanese Studies *
The story of the Bonin Islands is an extraordinary and little-known part of Japan's frontier history. A place of multiple cultural encounters, migrations, displacements, and occupations, the Bonins offer a vantage point for a fresh look at the shaping of modern Japan. David Chapman provides a superb historical analysis of the islands' history, while also recounting their fascinating and sometimes tragic history with the skills of a consummate storyteller. -- Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Australian National University
David Chapman narrates a fascinating chapter of global history through the story of the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands, their people, and shifting regional power dynamics. He reveals a space and time of cosmopolitanism in the history of Japan and the Pacific. -- Vera Mackie, University of Wollongong

About David Chapman

David Chapman is associate professor and reader in Japanese studies at the University of Queensland.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Orphan, the Uninhabited, and the Archbishop: Narratives of Discovery and Possession Chapter 2: An Unsettled Settlement: Narratives of Promise and Menace Chapter 3: Encountering Japan: Narratives of Possession and Reclamation Chapter 4: Naturalized Foreigners: Narratives of Nation and Modernity Chapter 5: Christianity, Colonialism, and Community: Narratives of Spectacle and Religion Chapter 6: Strangers at Home: Narratives of Suspicion and Conflict Chapter 7: A World Apart: Narratives of Identity Chapter 8: Conclusion

Additional information

The Bonin Islanders, 1830 to the Present: Narrating Japanese Nationality by David Chapman
Lexington Books
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