MICHAEL John IOANNIDES
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Santa Barbara, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10422
Approve DateOctober 11, 2022
Project TitleIOANNIDES, MICHAEL (California, Santa Barbara, U. of) "Infrastructures of Sovereignty: Indigenous Environmental Activism and the Politics of Temporality in Settler Colonial Japan."
This research is an ethnography of the politics of temporality, as seen in contests over infrastructure between Indigenous activists and settlers in present-day Hokkaido, Japan. I examine how Ainu environmental activists assert temporal sovereignty to envision and enact decolonized futures. I probe the ways that activists seeking to recuperate and maintain relationships of obligation to ancestral lands and waters develop strategies to flourish in the 21st century. Through twelve months of fieldwork with Ainu-led environmental organizations in Hokkaido, I investigate the following questions: How do Ainu environmental activists assert temporal sovereignty to envision and enact Indigenous futurities? How do these futurities intersect with the settler futurities the Japanese government seeks to instantiate through infrastructure construction projects? How can environmental activism increase self-determination for Indigenous peoples and inform the creation of sustainable and just infrastructures for future generations? Ethnographic engagement in Hokkaido will transform our understanding of Japan’s unique system of infrastructure construction—the so-called construction state—by accounting for its dependence on ongoing settler colonialism and Indigenous dispossession in Hokkaido. This research will also expand our understanding of what infrastructure is, highlighting the diversity of ways that human societies seek to provide a better life for future generations.