Speaker: Akemi Johnson, Author
Moderator: Paul Kreitman, Assistant Professor of 20th Century Japanese History, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
At the southern end of the Japanese archipelago lies Okinawa, host to a vast complex of U.S. military bases. A legacy of World War II, these bases have been a fraught issue in Japan for decades—with tensions exacerbated by the often volatile relationship between islanders and the military, especially after the brutal rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three servicemen in the 1990s.
But the situation is more complex than it seems. In Night in the American Village, journalist Akemi Johnson takes readers deep into the “border towns” surrounding the bases—a world where cultural and political fault lines compel individuals, both Japanese and American, to continually renegotiate their own identities. Focusing on the women there, she follows the complex fallout of the murder of an Okinawan woman by an ex–U.S. serviceman in 2016 and speaks to protesters, to women who date and marry American men and groups that help them when problems arise, and to Okinawans whose family members survived World War II.
Thought-provoking and timely, Night in the American Village is a vivid look at the enduring wounds of U.S.-Japanese history and the cultural and sexual politics of the American military empire. In this online event, the author will read a short extract followed by a Q&A session.
Speaker's Bio: Akemi Johnson has contributed to The Nation, NPR’s All Things Considered and Code Switch, The Washington Post, Travel + Leisure, Anthony Bourdain's Explore Parts Unknown, and other publications. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright grant to Japan, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and the James D. Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation.
Akemi earned an MFA in fiction writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and an AB in East Asian Studies from Brown University.