Alexandra Valdez

The Battle of Okinawa: Memory, remembrance, and commemoration in eyewitness accounts

With the passing of the last survivors of the events of World War II, we are currently facing the final stages of the passing of individual living memory into either collective cultural memory or oblivion. In order to combat this threat of historical oblivion, there have been numerous projects around the world to preserve these memories for future generations. These accounts from eyewitness are invaluable additions to history as they make past events more tangible and present. The diversity of experience that these stories reflect also serves to combat the homogenization of memories that inevitably comes with this transition into collective memory.

The Battle of Okinawa (26 March 1945-7 September 1945) was the final military encounter between the US-American and Japanese armies. Over the course of the battle, more than 240,000 people perished, over half of which were Okinawans. With such extreme loss of life among the Okinawan population, not to mention the widespread destruction of the main island, there were few—if any—residents of Okinawa who did not suffer a personal loss. Decades after the end of the war, survivors began telling and even publishing their stories. These first-hand accounts, taikenki (体験記), play a crucial role in remembering and commemorating the battle and are a rich resource for historical research.

This dissertation will investigate the role of taikenki in the preserving and shaping of memory of the Battle of Okinawa on the local and national levels, which are frequently at odds with one another. It also seeks to illuminate how the battle itself as well as life in wartime Japan were perceived by those who experienced them in order to contribute to and potentially complicate the larger narratives within the Japanese historical consciousness debates.


Educational Background
  • Boston College, B.A. History, 2010
  • Heidelberg University, M.A. Transcultural Studies, 2019
  • Ph.D. candidate at Heidelberg University since December 2021


Zuletzt bearbeitet von:: bbsd
Letzte Änderung: 04.03.2024
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