Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Okinawan Children

Gail often photographed represent, perhaps, a face of Okinawa that did not directly experience the war but was obviously reared in the poverty and material deprivation of the postwar. These images were taken only six or seven years after the war and the lingering effects are plainly visible: clothing made from repurposed military uniforms; children wearing military boots several sizes too big if they wore shoes at all; children who appear, as in the photo below entitled “Little fellow's head,” to not quite know what to make of the white man behind the camera.

We have to wonder whether or not Gail was in uniform as he scoured the countryside looking for photogenic people and and striking landscapes. Certainly, whether uniformed or not, that he was a white man would most likely have let those he encountered to assume that he was a member of the occupying military, a figure both awkwardly out of place and yet simultaneously inscribed with colonial privilege and power. In some of the photos in this section, it is clear that the children are trying to avoid the camera's gaze, Gail himself, or both. In 1955, only three years after Gail took these photos, a 31-year-old American raped and murdered 6-year-old Nagayama Yumiko, a crime that roiled Okinawa and served to exacerbate fears of American military men.

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