Publication – Consuming Japanese and Korean Pop Culture in Australia: “Asia Literacy” and Cosmopolitan Identity

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My article “Consuming Japanese and Korean Pop Culture in Australia: “Asia Literacy” and Cosmopolitan Identity” has just been published within the Journal of Australian Studies, the premier academic journal for the study of Australian history, society and culture. The study draws upon interviews with Australian fans of both Japanese and Korean popular culture and intervenes in debates concerning Australia’s positioning within Asia, particularly the provocative special issue of Australian Foreign Affairs entitled “Are We Asian Yet? History vs Geography.

The article is also one of the first to examine the entangled nature of Japanese and Korean popular culture fandom. I made the conscious decision to engage with those who consumed both forms of East Asian pop culture as I believe they are often linked together by fans across the world. In so doing, I found some interesting points about “weeaboos” and “koreaboos.”

Here is the formal abstract:

This article investigates how young Australians who consume both Japanese and Korean popular culture conceptualise their multicultural identities. Through semi-structured interviews with 14 fans, I chart how they first encountered Japanese and Korean popular culture texts within the Australian mediascape and how this discovery impacted their self-identities. I then analyse the interviews to argue that these fans mobilise 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 intercultural 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 fans to destabilise “monocultural” understandings of Asia that are common in Australia.

Unfortunately the article is currently pay-walled, but I am happy to share copies with people who are interested. Just contact me via email or one of my social media channels.

Of course, because this is my research, there is also a little bit talking about the queer potentials of East Asian pop culture embedded in the work (specifically, how K-pop and Boys Love manga can act as resources for queer individuals in Australia).

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