Dreaming of the Dragon King: Trauma, Madness, and Creative Action in Contemporary Japan


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2012-2013


Haunted by memories of frustration and loss, how do Okinawans cope with the legacies of a brutal Japanese colonial era, the devastation of the Pacific War, and the long American military occupation? Caught up in networks of actors and practices, living and dead, visible and immaterial, how do they deal with powerful forces that are often beyond their control? Through an ethnography of shamans, landowners, bureaucrats, and ordinary people, this project considers the ways in which their actions, individual and collective, unconscious and reflexive, produce and reproduce the complexity and unevenness of their social world. It investigates the problems of trauma and madness, troubled relationships with the dead, loss of place, boredom, melancholy, and debt, both material and otherwise.