Spaces of Disregard: An agnotological approach to the geopolitics of Okinawa

Academy of Finland-funded Postdoctoral Research Project
Military fence on the beach on Okinawa Island
Military fence near the west-end of Camp Schwab, Okinawa Island. Image taken in December 2019.

Project information

Project duration


Funded by

Research Council of Finland - Postdoctoral Researcher

Funding amount

254 896 EUR

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Unit and faculty

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Project leader

Project description

This research project stems from the recent resurgence of interest in islands for studies of global politics. Today small often overlooked islands such as Diego Garcia, Guam, and Okinawa play a crucial role in the US military strategy. These islands are also an urgent issue to be solved because of their colonial conditions and base-related violence against islanders. Despite their military and colonial compositions, dominant narratives continue to disregard these islands and islanders’ voices. Focusing on the case of Okinawa, this study examines how contemporary military mapping and (post)colonial bordering are reproduced through acts of disregard. Combining textual analysis with ethnography, it also explores diverse ways in which islanders challenge hegemonic geopolitics and envision a decolonial future. The study contributes to discussions in the fields of political geography and international relations and specialised studies of border, island, and security.

Project results


Nishiyama, H. 2023. Decolonial with neo-nationalism: The politics of indigeneity and land rights struggles in Okinawa. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 48(2): 290-303.

Nishiyama, H. 2023. Muchigaku kara mita Okinawa no kichi mondai to kadai [An agnotological study of US military base problems in Okinawa]. Gendai shiso 51(7, June issue): 141-152.

Nishiyama, H. 2022. Decolonizing knowledge of and from Okinawa. Critical Asian Studies 54(4): 552-573.

Nishiyama, H. 2022. Base Borders: The Militarisation and (Post-)Colonial Bordering of Okinawa. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 40(8): 1627-1642.

Nishiyama, H. 2022. Base built in the middle of ‘rice fields’: A politics of ignorance in Okinawa. Geopolitics 27(2): 546-565.

Nishiyama, H. 2019. Geopolitics of disregard: Living a colonial life in Okinawa. Political Geography 74, Article 102042.