Over December 4-7, I will be attending the biannual meeting of the Korean Studies Association of Australia at the University of Western Australia. I’ll be presenting a paper entitled “Consuming Japanese and Korean popular culture in Australia: “Asia literacy” and the development of cosmopolitan identity among fans“, which draws upon a research project that has previously been presented in a variety of media outlets such as on Channel 9’s Weekend Today. Here’s the abstract:
This presentation draws upon a pilot study of young Australians who consume both Japanese and Korean popular culture to investigate how such fans conceptualize their consumption. Through semi-structured interviews with seven fans, I chart how the informants first encountered Japanese and Korean popular culture texts within the Australian mediascape and how this discovery impacted their self-identities. I reveal that Japanese popular culture consumption often acts as a gateway to engagement with the Korean Wave in Australia. I then analyze the interviews to argue that these fans mobilize their consumption of East Asian popular culture to position themselves as more “Asia literate” than the general Australian public. In so doing, I demonstrate that continued consumption of both Japanese and Korean popular culture in the Australian context potentially boosts inter-cultural communicative competence and thus provides consumers with a cosmopolitan identity. I argue that this cosmopolitanism is based in perceptions of a heightened tolerance for cultural difference that allows the seven fans to destabilize “monocultural” understandings of Asia that are common in Australia. Throughout, I reflect upon how this cosmopolitan identification relates to broader debates concerning Australia’s positioning within the Asian region.