Kim, Claudia Junghyun: Base Towns
When do we see social movements mobilize against the American military overseas, and what explains their varying intensity? Despite increasing interest in the vast network of U.S. military bases on foreign soil, it is still not well understood why some host communities resist the bases in their backyards, while others remain compliant.
In Base Towns, Claudia Junghyun Kim addresses this puzzle by investigating the contentious politics surrounding twenty U.S. military bases across Korea and Japan. In particular, she looks at municipalities hosting these bases and differing levels of community acceptance and resistance over time. Drawing on fieldwork interviews, participant observation, and protest event data from 2000-2015, Kim shows that activists occasionally manage to join hands with the otherwise politically
inactive local populations when they deliberately subordinate their radical movement goals to more immediate, mundane demands that form the basis of everyday local grievances. Specifically, the activists in base towns successfully build broad anti-base movements when they take advantage of quotidian disruption,
adopt culturally resonant movement frames, and ally with local political elites. These activist strategies, however, sometimes end up reinforcing the widely presumed inevitability of the American presence.
In examining activist actions, strategies, and dilemmas, this book sheds light on marginalized actors in domestic and international politics-far removed from elite decision-making processes that shape interstate base politics and yet living with their consequences-who sometimes manage to complicate the operations of America's military behemoth.Since the end of the Cold War, scholarly interest in the global U.S. military presence has mushroomed. Claudia Kim's Base Towns, focused on Japan and South Korea, makes an important and original contribution to this undertaking. By emphasizing 'the primacy of the local,' Kim argues persuasively that pragmatic considerations take precedence over ideology or international politics in shaping relations between U.S. military garrisons abroad and nearby