Practicing Ecological Security and Making Multispecies Relations in Anti-Base Resistance: Insights from Environmental-Oriented Anti-Base Activists in Henoko and Takae struggles in Okinawa
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AbstractHenoko and Takae are two Okinawan villages entangled in the struggles against militarization of Henoko-Oura Bay and Yanbaru forest, respectively. These struggles highlight the problems associated with the US military bases and operations in relation to environmental justice (EJ), conservation, and ecological security concerns. Focusing on environmental-focused anti-base resistance, my research asks what activities activists engage in and how those activities relate to activists’ understanding of the problems associated with the US military bases in Okinawa. Drawing on in-depth interviews with environmental-oriented anti-base activists and participant observation in protest sites and activist communities, my research explores how activists ascribe meanings to their current resistance activities in Henoko and Takae, particularly direct action interferences, monitoring, and translocal collaborations. My analysis of activists’ perceptions, experiences, and behaviours in these activities contributes to (Critical) EJ and social movement studies (SMS) literatures by highlighting non-western forms of resistance and activists’ interpretation and articulation of their particular approaches. Additionally, informed by assemblage theory, my research investigates how activists interact with human and nonhuman entities in their activism and how those interactions shape activists’ perceptions of their relations with others and their ideas of security. My analysis reveals activists’ exceptional humility to and practice of ecological security from the ways in which they interact with the local community, those on ‘the other side,’ and nonhuman surroundings. My analysis also demonstrates how protest sites become spaces of knowledge production and relationship-building, which challenge the Japanese and US governments’ colonialist, militaristic, and anthropocentric governance and security narratives. Such findings contribute to the theoretical understanding and practical application of assemblage theory, particularly in relation to the SMS and environmental sociology literatures. The activists’ practices of ecological security and multispecies relations in Henoko and Takae can be an exemplar for EJ and other social justice activism.
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