I completed the PhD in 2019. My dissertation considers the cultural dimensions of embassies dispatched by the Okinawan kingdom of Lūchū (J: Ryūkyū) to Edo (today, Tokyo), the seat of the Tokugawa shoguns of Japan, with a particular focus on the use of costume, music, and other aspects of cultural performance in “performing” status & identity, and the role of ritual in enacting political relationships. After several years as a postdoctoral Project Researcher at the University of Tokyo Historiographical Institute, I now enjoy a position as Associate Professor at the Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University, in Kyoto.

While I continue my research into Lūchūan diplomatic and court culture, I have in recent years moved into more contemporary topics pertaining to the intersection between arts & politics in Okinawa, including contemporary Okinawan art, heritage issues (the rebuilding of Sui gusuku / Shuri castle), and cultural politics during the Occupation era.

During my time at UCSB I developed a basic foundational knowledge in Hawaiian and Pacific Island History as a teaching field, and am eager to learn more and become more engaged in such topics.

I have been fortunate to perform in and dramaturg for a Kabuki play at the University of Hawaiʻi, and dabble in Okinawan classical and folk music played on the sanshin (a banjo-like instrument closely related to the Japanese shamisen).

Performing “Lūchū”: Identity Performance and Foreign Relations in Early Modern Japan

Luke Roberts