The Gail Project: “An Okinawan-American Dialogue” opens on campus October 5 at the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery
September 29, 2017
The Gail Project is a collaborative public history project that explores the founding years of the American military occupation of Okinawa, a Japanese island in the East China Sea, after World War II.
Now in its fourth year at UC Santa Cruz, the project was inspired by a collection of photographs taken in 1952 by American Army Captain, Charles Eugene Gail. The collection was donated to the University Library’s Special Collections in 2013 by Gail’s daughter, Geri, a former UCSC staff member, who felt the best home for the images would be in an educational setting.
“I wanted to share these pictures of Okinawa with the students at UCSC to perhaps help them learn more about the country and its history,” said Gail. “I felt it was important that people learn about the suffering of these people during and after World War II.”
The photos were taken during an era when the expansion of U.S. military bases on the war-ravaged island was just beginning to accelerate. They document a way of life that would soon disappear–a last glimpse before the presence of thousands of military personnel changed the face and culture of Okinawa.
“1953 was the last year of the Korean War, and the American military was just realizing Okinawa would be a key location for American bases,” said UC Santa Cruz history professor Alan Christy, director of the Gail Project.