Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

The Healing Islands of Japan: more-than-human care in the context of urban migration to Miyakojima  
Sarah Clay

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper discusses healing and care in the context of urban migration to the Japanese Miyako Islands. Drawing attention to the ways newcomers experience and act upon the healing properties of the islands, I explore how notions of care shape the social and ecological environments of Miyako.

Paper Abstract:

Within the borders of Japan, the Miyako Islands are primarily known for their emerald-green sea with healing (iyashi) properties. Especially since 2015, the remote islands have become a popular destination for relatively young emigrants who “flee society” (shakai kara nukedasu) to find alternative ways of living and working outside of the urban centers of Japan. This community of migrants is characterized by their efforts to care for Miyako’s natural world—newcomers’ way to “do something in return” (ongaeshi suru). In this paper, I explore the ways how Japanese migrants experience the healing powers of Miyako’s soil, sea, and non-human inhabitants and the ways these experiences are translated into environmental initiatives. Understanding local practices and experiences of care as relational, I argue that these are shaped by sociocultural understandings of nature and place that largely originate elsewhere. These conceptualizations have nevertheless fargoing consequences on the ground as they change local land- and seascapes. Moreover, based on hybrid ethnography, I demonstrate how practices of care are important mechanisms for in-and exclusion and as such shape social life on Miyako. Drawing attention to the variety of discourses and experiences amongst newcomers, I aim to provide meaningful insights into the situatedness of environmental care and its social implications. Moreover, by providing a case from the Japanese context, I hope to contribute to debates within the environmental humanities and beyond on the complexity and ambiguity of healing and care in the context of contemporary migration flows.

Panel OP115
Health and more-than-human entanglements
  Session 2 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -