Significance of reconstructed built-heritage after wartime destruction: Restitution of identity? New role in the subsequent society?

Okahashi, Junko (2018) Significance of reconstructed built-heritage after wartime destruction: Restitution of identity? New role in the subsequent society? In: ICOMOS 19th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium "Heritage and Democracy", 13-14th December 2017, New Delhi, India. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract (in English)

In a southern island of Japan stands a prominent example of reconstructed cultural heritage, the Shuri-jo (Shuri Castle). First built in 14th Century by the Ryukyu dynasty of Okinawa, it was a living castle until late 19th Century. However, entirely devastated by heavy bombarding in 1945, its tangible memory could then only be rebuilt through reconstruction. Shuri-jo being highly important for the identity of the people of Okinawa, reconstruction works started as early as the 1950s, emerging from the rubbles of the city of Naha, even under the American occupation. Majority of the works took place in the early 1990s. The historic urban landscape around Shuri-jo was gone in 1945, yet without such context, the new Shuri-jo is again at the heart of the local community. Reconstruction could take place at the right momentum, while the elders could link their memories of the pre-war castle to its new being. Without the reconstruction of this castle complex, it could be said that for them, war period was not over. Those reconstructed monuments could be seen as restituted identity of the place, as a symbol of reconciliation of the war-torn society of Okinawa. Without the reconstructed castle, today having also become a tourist asset, one would find it difficult to visually trace in space the important evidence of local history, rich in its own cultural uniqueness. Shuri-jo, with its strong narrative, illustrates the not-to-be-granted-for age of peace that overcame dark memories of war and loss. It is a case study of an act of reconstruction under “exceptional circumstances” that rose initiative and motivation of the local and national community, enabling release of large-scale means. This case should possibly support the discussion on who decides the future status of cultural heritage after its post-conflict form of devastation, who takes the responsibility, and for whom?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Okahashi, Junko
Languages: English
Keywords: identity; conflict; peace; reconciliation; Okinawa; Japan; war; local history; tangible heritage; local community; reconstruction
Subjects: D.URBANISM > 04. Rehabilitation
E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 09. Social and economic aspects of conservation
G.DETERIORATION > 04. Effects of deterioration
P. GEOGRAPHIC AREAS > 04. Asia and Pacific islands
National Committee: ICOMOS International
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 19th General Assembly, New Delhi, 2017
Depositing User: intern icomos
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2019 14:14
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2019 14:14
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