Globalisation overlooks the counter-current – the impact non-western cultures have been making on the West. It downloads the ambivalence of the globalising momentum and ignores the role of local reception of western culture […] it fails to see the influence non-western cultures have been exercising on each other. It has no room for cross-over cultures.
(Nederveen Pieterse 1995: 45)
Introduction: East Asian Journal of Popular Culture
By Ann Heylen, Kate Taylor-Jones and John Berra
From East Asian Journal of Popular Culture Volume 1 Issue 1
Published January 2015
East Asian popular culture has gone global on an unprecedented scale. From local television celebrities to international superstars, from global music hits to success at film festivals, the last few decades have seen the forging of new inter and intra modes of popular culture creation, dissemination and receivership in the East Asian nations and beyond. Despite periods of economic crisis, political unrest and social upheavals, the dialogues that are taking place between East and West – and more vitally between East Asian nations themselves – are changing and developing new narratives and visions. When the study of popular culture was positioned as a subject area back in the 1960s, for many the discipline was at a point of convergence, and it is the notion of convergence that has become a vital development in the global study of East Asian popular culture.
In the launch of any new journal, its genesis must be acknowledged: The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture sprang from the first inaugural meeting of the East Asian Popular Culture Association (EAPCA), which was founded with the purpose of shedding light on this paradox and other complexities regarding East Asian popular culture. After a highly successful inaugural conference in 2011 in Taipei, it became clear that this was a rich and fertile area of study that required its own journal to develop and enlarge this very vibrant and important field. With attendees from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Germany, France and the Netherlands from subject areas as diverse as literature, film studies, art history, history, geography, sociology, music and politics, new connections were made and fresh dialogues developed to the mutual benefit of all.
This journal was forged by the genuine desire to see these narratives developed, enhanced and be joined by many others via the academic study of all aspects of East Asian popular culture from both a contemporary and a historical perspective, from practice-led to traditional methodologies and all that can be found in between. So, in short summary this journal is devoted to all aspects of popular culture in East Asia.
Popular culture often transcends national, political and social boundaries,and this has become all the more true with the shrinking global village. Although globalization can often destroy the cultural networks that had existed previously it also allows new and diverse methods of cultural engagement (Storey 1998: 119). One cannot overlook the fact that the Chinese language research community is expanding rapidly, including the growing Chinese diaspora communities to nations in South East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines) and elsewhere. These communities have been inserting new cultural and linguistic elements that, over time, merge with the local popular traditions, hence creating new ways in which these cultural phenomena are being circulated, reproduced and consumed locally and abroad.
The notion of history and memory is key in this process, and as such, this journal encourages imaginative perspectives and critical interpretations of popular culture as a medium to convey memory. Hence, we strongly encourage articles that explore the way popular culture has been utilized to convey meaning to past events, how the global flow of popular culture changes the way people recognize their own history and how popular culture affects the sociocultural map of East Asia.
Any debate on popular culture in the modern age of course cannot escape the rise of the mass media. The rise and development of global media systems has led to a proliferation of a popular culture that is circulated on a mass scale. This has led on the one hand to the global dominance of American-led cultural products and images such as film, music and consumer goods but this has also been simultaneous with the development of Asian-based ‘affluent youth cultural markets […] not penetrated by American popular culture’ (Iwabuchi 2003: 16). Asian media systems have emerged as powerful players in the landscape of global communication and transnational consumption and they have changed the operation of the media world as a result (Kim 2007: 3).
The growing visibility of the ‘moving in/out’ of trans-Asian cultural narratives (Erni and Chua 2005) has become a vital part of the continual restructuring and re-identifying of cultural globalization (Iwabuchi 2004). As Kim (2007: 3) notes, each ‘wave is an example of the decentralising multiplicity of global media flows’ and with the establishment of stable and influential media hubs, including Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong ‘Asia is connected and reconnected to the rest of the world and within its own region’ (Fung 2013: 2). Globalization has become the method through which cultures, peoples, ideologies, aesthetics and ideas can now spread beyond the boundaries of discrete nation states in an instant. This can of course spark resistance (such as film quotas, intra-Asian funding strategies and the reassertion of traditional cultural rites and rituals) and at the same time, encourage and develop multiple methods of engagement.
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