Daily Life and Work
Images of daily life and labor in early 1950s Okinawa
Many of the photos in the collection show Okinawans engaging in their daily labor practices. In this section, we see a display of labor and daily life that, upon first glance, appears to be quite romantic. In some images, the people in the photos are far enough from the lens to render them as simply props for a much grander appreciation for the landscape. People are smiling for the camera as they continue with their endeavors. Did Gail patronize these shops, which might explain the beaming smiles from some of the shopkeepers? Does the image simply capture a relationship—that of the militourist and the Okinawan vendor—that was already an important economic system in early 1950s basetowns throughout the Pacific? (Teresia Teaiwa developed the term “militourism” to describe the relationship in which tourism is infused by military networks, while at the same time the “tourist industry masks the military force behind it.” Teaiwa 1999, 262. See also Lyons 1995.) It is safe to assume that this was not the first time that the Okinawans in the pictures had interacted with an American cameraperson. If some images depict people smiling at the lens, others show people either indifferent or even annoyed at the cameraman.
Some photos in the “People” page, which completes this module, could very well have been incorporated into this section on daily life and labor. This is because in Gail's images of occupied Okinawa, it is apparent that there was no distinct line between work and leisure. Here, I have chosen to include those photos in which both photographer and photographed seem primarily focused on economic activity.