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The conditions of World War Two, within which Benjamin wrote the “Theses,” will serve the organizational locus around which this short essay is structured.
In what follows, I will move between the specter of Fascism in Benjamin’s Europe and the atrocities of the Battle of Okinawa, in Japan, reading Benjamin’s “Theses” alongside a 2009 work by the Okinawan artist Yamashiro Chikako: “Your Voice Came Out Through My Throat.” I will argue that both Benjamin’s essay and Yamashiro’s video illuminate the power of the link that connects people in the past, present, and future.
How, in short, do we sustain the generational link that Benjamin understood as critical to the revolutionary project of constructing a better future without subsuming and appropriating the specificity of the violence endured by our predecessors as our own?
For Benjamin, earlier generations transmit and preserve the hope of a better future.
It is no secret that many of the early waves of migration across the Pacific—among them the great bulk of Okinawan immigration to the United States in the early twentieth century—were in response to historical forms of violence (especially war and colonialism).
As a result, second- and third-generation diasporic Asians often inherit the material and psychic legacies of violent events that remain temporally and geographically remote.
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Before I present a reading of Yamashiro’s work, I must provide context by way of a short history of Okinawa.In this light, it is difficult not to read his “Theses” as a letter to an improved tomorrow—one in which he imagined he would not exist.He completed the work shortly before he committed suicide, at the Franco–Spanish border, after failing to escape the widening sphere of Nazi occupation.Rise in rape reports tied to celeb sex assault scandals: NYPD She made it to week five under coach Adam Levine, and released her debut album "Cry Baby" in 2015. 6 on Billboard charts, and her sophomore effort is rumored to have a January 2018 release date.
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Although today a prefecture of Japan, the multiple islands that comprise it were an independent, sovereign nation (the Ryukyu Kingdom) for five centuries preceding its official annexation by Japan during the Meiji Restoration in 1868.