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The History of Okinawa and the Ryukyu Kingdom

Time and Location

June 22, 6am EDT (7pm JST)


In this talk, Professor Travis Seifman will provide an overview of the history of Okinawa / the Ryukyu Islands, from the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom through its annexation by Japan, World War II, and the Allied Occupation, to today. He will focus in particular on the complex ways that the islands have, at various times in history, been a part of Japan, apart from Japan, or, often, both at the same time.

The event will be recorded and published in YCAPS’ web archive. Questions are encouraged during the live event.



Professor Travis Seifman is Associate Professor at the Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University, in Kyoto. He has had the privilege of studying at the University of the Ryukyus, in Okinawa, for six months in 2016-17, and visiting Okinawa numerous times before and since then. His book project takes the Kingdom of Ryukyu’s 17th-19th century embassies to Edo (Tokyo, the seat of the Tokugawa shoguns) as a frame for exploring the vibrant visual, material, and performative culture of the Kingdom, which has today become Okinawan traditional arts and heritage. He is also deeply interested in the arts, culture, and heritage issues in Okinawa today, and has written a chapter on the restoration of Shuri castle – the former Ryukyuan royal palace destroyed in World War II, restored in the 1990s, and destroyed again in an accidental fire in 2019 – for a forthcoming book entitled Transposed Memory: Visual Sites of National Recollection in Twentieth and Twenty-first Century East Asia, edited by Alison Miller and Eunyoung Park. Prof. Seifman received his PhD in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Visit Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS) website for more information.

This event is supported through the Japan Foundation New York’s Salary Assistance Grant for U.S.-Japan Community Grassroots Exchange Program.

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