Professional and Biographical Information

I was born in Japan, and my family is from Okinawa (formerly Ryukyu/Lūchū kingdom), which has been occupied by the US military since the end of World War II. This personal background informs my research interests and ongoing work toward demilitarization and decolonization.

Before joining Amherst’s English faculty, I was the recipient of a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and before that a Mitsubishi Foundation graduate fellowship. With these fellowships, alongside the incredible mentorship of Dr. Ariko Ikehara, the director and founder of Koza MiXtopia Research Center, I was able to conduct fieldwork in Okinawa City (formerly known as Koza City during US occupation) and in Teruya, the area known as Okinawa’s Black District. My fieldwork and training in literary analysis helped me to understand the complex, material relationships between narrative and place, and the role of literature and storytelling in making visible signs of Indigenous persistence. Outside of academia, I also am fortunate to be in conversation with many brilliant Lūchūans in Okinawa and the diaspora. As I continue to learn from esteemed friends, colleagues, activists, and scholars, I hope to further my engagement with Indigenous Luchuan practices and incorporate Uchinanguchi language revitalization as part of an Indigenous Pacific feminist practice.


Ph.D., English Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Pittsburgh
M.A., English, Boston University
B.A., English, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Research Interests

My research focuses on militarism, settler colonialism, and Cold War security in Asia and the Pacific. My training as a scholar of literary studies takes seriously literature’s capacity to both forward critiques of structures of domination and imagine alternative ways of knowing.

My dissertation, “Aftermaths of Empires: Cold War Narratives of the Black Pacific,” draws broadly on this framework to examine how the aftermaths of militarism and settler colonialism become contested sites of narrativization. Dominant narratives of the aftermaths of World War II frame US wars and occupations through the language of benevolence—what I call fictions of benevolence. Such fictions are reframed by Pacific Islander, Black feminist, Asian American, and Okinawan writers, who make visible the prolonged impact of the US carceral state’s mechanisms of militarism and policin. These artists draw on literature’s creative capacity to articulate futures and possibilities beyond  mechanisms of imperial violence and settler security. By situating this project at the intersections of Asian American, transpacific, and Black Pacific studies, I argue that we have yet to contend with the underlying racial logics of settler colonialism and its instrumentalization of anti-Blackness and Indigenous erasure in the making of Cold War security. These narrative contestations of the aftermaths continue to shape public understandings about the impact and ongoing role of US security in Asia and the Pacific.

My next project builds on an article I published in American Quarterly, “Bone and Coral: Ossuopower and the Control of (Future) Remains” (September 2022). There, I argue that the control of Indigenous remains and their abuses and misuses resulting from the expansion of US military bases speaks to broader issues of contested sovereignties tied to death and land theft. Centering Pacific and Indigenous Islander cultural productions, this project illustrates how ecologies of death speak materialize contested sovereignties within the structures of settler colonial security. However, these settler militarist teleologies are neither final nor fated. I turn to Okinawan Indigenous yuntaku (talk-story), literature, and practices of ancestral connectivity to show ways of thinking that exceed and precede settler colonial epistemes.

I am also engaged in a public-facing project that tracks the issue of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and the production of weaponized ecologies in sites of militarization. I highlight how the convergence of militarism, tourism, and security discourse obscure the ongoing consequences of military waste on Indigenous lands, including Okinawa, Guåhan, and Hawai‘i. This project suggests demands for landback must also include demilitarization of polluted and weaponized ecologies.

Teaching Interests

My teaching focuses on the intersections of Asian American and Pacific Island literatures, with the broader aim of helping students to cultivate the imaginative and critical capacities necssary to articulate possibilities for being and knowing beyond the received structures and epistemes of domination. In fall 2023, I will teach a course on Asian American and Pacific Islander Critiques, which I approach as two distinct historical, epistemological, and cultural fields that at times overlap, converge, or generate friction in their critiques of militarism and settler colonialism. Because of my training in literary and cultural studies, I like to introduce—and make space for students to contribute—other materials into the literature classroom, including government archives, newspapers, social media posts, personal and family histories, cultural objects, and more. In my classroom, students learn that interpretation is never neutral, but they have agency in the methods and critical lenses they engage.



"Ecological Aftermaths in the Black Pacific: The Racial Logics of Settler Security and Writing Towards Futurity in the Poetry of Teresia Teaiwa and Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner," Environmental Entanglements in Asian America, Journal of Asian American Studies 26, no. 3 (October 2023: 379-403. 

"Cold War, Global Warming, and Transoceanic Feminism: Theorizing the Black Pacific," Amerasia Journal  (September 2023),

“Bone and Coral: Ossuopower and the Control of (Future) Remains in Occupied Okinawa,” From Anarchy to Chaos: Generation(s) of Empire, American Quarterly 74, no. 3, 2022: 567-590.  


“Re-Inscribing Response-Ability: Student Writing on Student Writing,” with Treviene A. Harris, Amanda Awanjo, Sam Lane, Nelesi Rodriguez, Tanya Shirazi, Khirsten L. Scott, and Cory Holding, in Inventing the Discipline: Student Work in Composition Studies, edited by Peter Moe and Stacey Waite (forthcoming from Parlor Press, 2022): 218-234.

Creative Works

“Feeling Out of Place: Friendship and Community Building across Difference,” in A Love Letter to This Bridge Called My Back, edited by gloria j. wilson, Joni B. Acuff, and Amelia M. Kraehe (Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 2022): 99-103. 

With Treviene Harris (co-author), “On the Limits of Institutional DEI Work,” Black and Asian Feminist Solidarities column, Asian American Writers Workshop, July 2021,

“Sometimes, Other Times,” GidraMedia, June 2021.

“Edna and I,” Trauma & Träume: Pain and Dreams in Art and Literature, The Vassar Review (2016): 25-28.

Awards and Honors

Ford Foundation Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2022-2023)

A.W. Mellon Foundation and Humanities Engage Curated Summer Immersive Fellowship (Summer 2022)

Mitsubishi Foundation Graduate Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh (2021-2022)

Dr. and Mrs. Ryonosuke Shiono Scholarship, Nationality Rooms, University of Pittsburgh (Summer 2021)

Japan Studies Doctoral Research Fellowship Grant, University of Pittsburgh (2021)

Elizabeth Baranger Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award, University of Pittsburgh (2019-2020)

Invited Talks and Lectures

"Between Ruin and Rebelling: Cultivating Everyday Sovereignties in Okinawa's Black District," Higgins School of Humanities, Clark University (April 2024)

“Satokibi Poetics: Indigenous Persistence in Okinawa’s Black District,” University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (April 2023)

“Reading at the Crossroads: Literary Landscapes in Okinawa’s Black Pacific,” University of Pittsburgh (April 2023)

“Elite Migrations,” University of Pittsburgh (April 2019)

“Mohsin Hamid, Exit West,” co-discussants Dr. Elizabeth Rodriguez-Fielder, Alyssa Quintanilla, and Andrea Paolini, Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures Series (March 2017)

*Professor Nakaganeku Saito will transition to a tenure-track appointment at the college on July 1, 2024.