University of Oulu

Okinawan haafus’ identities : the stories of living and becoming hybrid in the borderlands

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Author: Kina, Masataka1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
Pages: 74
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : M. Kina, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-18
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Karjalainen, Magda
Reviewer: Jokikokko, Katri
Karjalainen, Magda


This study centers on Okinawan haafus’ identity processes at the core of the inquiry. It aims to understand and describe the haafus’ intricate identity processes in Okinawa. In this study, the term haafu refers to biracial individuals who have American and Okinawan (Japanese) parentage. The geographical context of the study is Okinawa. It is a Japanese prefectural island where a large amount of the United State military bases have been located since the end of World War II. By combining the concepts of identity from sociological and psychological fields, the study builds the groundwork for investigation of the haafus’ identities, the Okinawan context and their reciprocal relationship. Such relationship is evident in the haafus’ border-crossing and reinforcing. While border-crossing fractures existing borders, border-reinforcing strengthens the boundaries between differences. Race, the fence of the US military base, the Japanese nationality law and the terms of haafu are discussed as the concepts that pertain to haafus’ identities in relation to physical and non-physical borders in Okinawa.

Narrative as research material, as a methodology and as an approach is applied to this study. Therefore, the data is stories of the four haafus who were born and have grown up in Okinawa. The data is collected through semi-structured interviews. Narrative analysis is used to examine the structures of the haafus’ storytelling. The structures of their stories both converge and diverge on certain experiences. Also, stories are strategically constructed to produce some characters which foreground their identity claims and insights into the Okinawan context.

In line with the data of the study, the findings are presented by writing the individual haafus’ stories. These stories describe the haafus’ cognitive processes in making sense of their past experiences, future purposes, and relationships with the people around them. Their stories illustrate their hybrid identities which is evident in their creative ways of becoming who they are. It often indicates the meeting points in different cultures, beliefs and values present in Okinawa. Their identity implies diversity in Okinawan haafus’ experiences and identity processes. In addition, their experiences and identity processes address the simply divided image of the Okinawan political, cultural and racial narratives.

As described in the haafus’ stories, identity is an on-going process which relationally and situationally appears and is often accompanied by suturing and negotiating differences. The stories of haafus’ identities are a significant reminder for us to live together in differences under the circumstances of globalization. The Okinawan haafus’ sharing a sense of living in-between through storytelling cares for our relationships.


この研究は、ナラティブアプローチを用いて沖縄に住むハーフのアイデンティティについて理解し、それを表現することを目的とする。本研究におけるハーフとは、アメリカ人と沖縄(日本人)の両親を持つ者を指す。また、第二次世界大戦や米軍基地等の歴史的、そして政治的な背景を持つ沖縄が本研究のコンテクストである。理論的枠組みは、社会学および心理学におけるアイデンティティの概念を組み合わせ、ハーフ個人、そして沖縄社会レベルでのアイデンティティ構築、さらにこれらの相互作用性を考察できるように構成されている。 本研究で使われるデータは、会話(インタビュー)を通して得られた4人の沖縄に住むハーフの語りである。データの分析にはナラティブ構造分析が用いられている。「語り」を通して、ハーフがどのように自身の経験を組み立てるか、また、彼らのアイデンティティがどのように現れるかを読み解いていく。そして、分析から浮かび上がる社会的コンテクスト、さらに、研究者と研究参加者の間で構成される語りの相互作用性にも着目する。 研究結果は、ハーフのアイデンティティに関する心理的そして社会的プロセスを、物語の形を用いて表現している。これらの物語は、彼がどのようにして異なる文化や価値観の境界で、創造的に生きているかを示唆している。また、ハーフの<間>に生きる感覚は、沖縄の政治的構図が、米軍基地賛成・反対と単純に二分化された状況を再考する必要があることを批判的さらに感情的に促している。 ハーフの語りは、アイデンティティが特定の状況や人間関係の間で、それぞれの差異と衝突、そして交渉しながら、異なる形を持って現れる、「アイデンティティの流動性」を明示している。彼らのアイデンティティーに関する語りは、グローバル化する世界で異文化をもった人々と共生していく重要性を伝える。

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Copyright information: © Masataka Kina, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.