Review Section 439 Alegal: Biopolitics and the Unintelligibility of Okinawan Life. By Ann- maria M. Shimabuku. Fordham University Press, New York, 2019. xx, 219 pages. $95.00, cloth; $28.00, paper; $27.99, E-book. Reviewed by Masamichi Inoue University of Kentucky Annmaria M. Shimabuku’s Alegal: Biopolitics and the Unintelligibility of Okinawan Life explores forms of agency in postwar Okinawa consti- tuted at the margin of “a network of racialized territorial sovereignties [i.e., the United States and Japan] across the Asia-Pacifi c” (p. 6) by examining, among other issues, conditions in entertainment districts around U.S. bases. In the process, the book perceptively problematizes Japan as a “biopolitical state”—a state that controls life through “[t]he reproduction, management, and commodifi cation of labor power” (p. 9)—where patriarchal norms of monoethnicity have been promoted, according to Shimabuku’s analysis, through the formation of the Japanese middle class from the prewar through postwar periods. The author’s explorations are theoretically informed by a number of critical concepts. Central among these is the “alegal,” defi ned as “a form of life that exists in a condition of unintelligibility to the biopoliti- cal state” (p. 12). In the introduction, the ideas of alegal and biopolitical state are laid out against the
The Journal of Japanese Studies – Society for Japanese Studies
Published: Aug 6, 2020
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