Alexander BukhMay 28, 2020
These Islands Are Ours
The Social Construction of Territorial Disputes in Northeast Asia
Stanford University Press 2020
Alexander Bukh’s These Islands Are Ours: The Social Construction of Territorial Disputes in Northeast Asia (Stanford University Press 2020) provides critical historical perspective on the social construction of territorial disputes between Japan and its neighbors in Northeast Asia. In his analysis of Japan’s rows over the “Northern Territories” (with Russia), the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands (China), and Takeshima/Dokdo (Korea), Bukh reveals in detail how the nonstate actors that he calls “national identity entrepreneurs” manufacture and maintain national salience for what are often militarily, economically, and geographically relatively unimportant territories, moving them from the national margins to the core in times of crisis. Bukh follows an often colorful cast of civil society actors as he places each dispute within the macro-level geopolitical climate of its times as well as the micropolitics of national crises and tensions between national regions and capitals. By marshaling a broad range of sources and compiling the histories of these disparate but interlinked disputes, These Islands makes a significant and welcome contribution to international relations and security audiences as well as specialists in the East Asian region.