What each of the groups of people that we have discussed thus far share, is being treated with suspicion due to their societal treatment as somehow not fully belonging (here, I am talking about the Chinese in Honolulu, Koreans in Befu, and Okinawans on the battlefront). We have also seen how these people fought back at times, and at others, simply tried to carve out other socialities to survive and to live out their own ideas of abundance. We have not yet discussed place-making in terms of the creation of art, of music, of literature, etc. What place do you think that these things, which we might put together as “cultural productions,” has in analyses of the eruption of political struggle? Your observations do not have to be based on research, per se. Think about how art, music, literature, and other cultural productions have shifted your own understanding of belonging, of community, and of the kind of world you want to bring into being, in meaningful ways.
I think that in both a political, but also a very naturally social sense, forms of cultural expression such as art, music, and literature can be used as a way to communicate one’s own cultures, emotions, and thoughts to those from different backgrounds. I include the statement “a very naturally social sense”, because I feel like it does not only serve the purpose of political expression, but many other forms of expression as well. Whether or not the intention is to make a political statement or not is almost entirely irrelevant, because at the end of the day it is the viewer who makes what they want of these expressions. It is because of this that I want to point out the unintended impact of the expression of art, as art can have many different meanings depending on how it is perceives, most entirely not predicted nor intended by the artist. However, despite this being said, I think that an artist can direct their products to attempt to convey certain messages, and this is where the true influence of art is very noticeable.
Whether it is expressing a conflict from their point of view, or trying to relate emotions produced from interactions of all forms, not just conflict, an artist can convey messages from an insider’s perspective, giving outsiders a chance to try and understand whatever it is the artist is attempting to communicate. If the viewer is willing to listen, they can gain a new perspective on an issue, or even something as simple as a way of life, and this can assist people in their efforts to collaboratively negotiate a better world. For example, through artistic expression, perhaps someone under Japanese oppression in Okinawa during the early 20th century could give a Japanese person living in Tokyo during Japan’s Imperialistic rule a new perspectives on what it is like to live and interact in Okinawa on a daily basis. Perhaps the Japanese person could gain a new perspective on Japanese supremacy and the acts of violence being enacted on the locals of Okinawa, one which they could not achieve as someone living their drastically different life as a Japanese person from an entirely different society. Artistic expression has the ability to pass through boundaries built by conflict, as it is derived from the very emotions that make us human. It provides us with a chance to see our enemies as people and reconsider our actions and views on the world.