Mechademia: Critical Vistas Upon Global Asian Studies

Monday, September 19, 2022

8:00-10:00pm Eastern Time

Mechademia—an intellectual community built around a conference and a journal (University of Minnesota Press)—has stood at the forefront of youth-focused Asian popular culture scholarship since its inception in the early 2000s. With its emphasis upon manga, anime, video games, and other forms of East Asian popular culture and their fan bases, Mechademia has regularly brought together scholars, fans, and practitioners in seeking common dialogue, fresh approaches, and innovative insights.  

This Digital Dialogues session seeks to probe the interconnections between Mechademia and Asian Studies. We begin with a brief history of Mechademia led by its founding organizers discussing the impetus for creating the conference and journal. The discussion subsequently broadens to address the following questions:

  • What is the place of popular culture studies in the larger field of Asian Studies?  What can popular culture studies contribute to Asian Studies (and vice versa)?
  • How do fan cultures contribute to our understandings and interactions in Asian Studies?
  • What roles do race, gender, class, nation, and other structuring properties play in the study of fan cultures, with a particular eye to Asian Studies? 
  • How might querying popular culture studies help queer Asian Studies?

Session Participants

Photo of Edmund Hoff

Edmund Hoff

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Edmund Hoff’s research lies in popular culture related to Japan with a focus on cosplay. He is an organizer for the World Cosplay Summit and is the longest continuous support staff member for the event since its inception in 2003. From 2016, he was involved in bringing the Mechademia Academic Association’s Conference to Japan and continues to play a role on the steering committee. His most recent publication was a chapter dealing with the early foundations of cosplay culture in Japan from Helen McCarthy and Darren-Jon Ashmore’s book Leiji Matsumoto: Essays on the Manga and Anime Legend (McFarland, 2021). Edmund conducted his postgraduate studies at Nagoya University and currently is a lecturer at Tokyo Denki University.

Headshot of Tom Lamarre

Thomas Lamarre

Thomas Lamarre teaches in the departments of Cinema and Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Publications on media, thought, and material history include work on communication networks in 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan, 2000); silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen, 2005); animation technologies (The Anime Machine, 2009) and infrastructure ecologies (The Anime Ecology, 2018). Major translations include Kawamata Chiaki’s Death Sentences (2012), Muriel Combes’s Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual (2012), David Lapoujade’s William James, Empiricism, and Pragmatism (2019), and Isabelle Stengers’s Making Sense in Common (2022).

Photo by Erielle Bakkum.

Photo of Frenchy Lunning

Frenchy Lunning

Frenchy Lunning is Professor Emeritus of Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She was the founder and is the director of both the Japanese and the US “Mechademia Conferences on Asian Popular Cultures;” the Editor-in-Chief of Mechademia, published by the University of Minnesota Press; and one of the Editors-in-Chief of the current journal series Mechademia: Second Arc. Published books include Subcultural Fashion: Fetish Style (2013), and Cosplay: The Fictional Mode of Existence (2022). She has been working in Object-Oriented Ontology, and has chapters published in two anthologies: After the “Speculative Turn”: Realism, Philosophy and Feminism, eds. Eileen Joy, Katerina Kolozova and Ben Woodard; and Object-Oriented Feminism, ed. by Kathryn Behar. She is currently researching for her third book, Revolutionary Girl: Shōjo.  She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, an MA from Hamline University, and a BA from the University of Iowa.

Photo of Kazumi Nagaike

Kazumi Nagaike

Kazumi Nagaike is Professor of Japanese Culture at Oita University, Japan. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia (Canada) in 2005. Her research interests include studies in comparative literature, gender/sexuality, and popular culture. She is the author of Fantasies of Cross-dressing: Japanese Women Write Male-Male Erotica (Brill Academic Publishers, 2012) and co-editor of the collection Boys’ Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture and Community in Japan (University Press of Mississippi, 2015), Shōjo Across Media: Exploring “Girl” Practices in Contemporary Japan (Palgrave, 2019), and Women’s Manga in Asia and Beyond: Uniting Different Cultures and Identities (Palgrave, 2019). Nagaike has published a wide range of journal articles, book chapters, and translations in relation to her ongoing analysis of gender/sexuality in Japanese literature and popular culture.

Photo of Stevie Suan

Stevie Suan

An Associate Professor at Hosei University’s Faculty of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies, Stevie Suan holds a doctorate from the Graduate School of Manga Studies at Kyoto Seika University and a master’s in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa. His main area of expertise is in anime aesthetics through which he explores various modes of existence. In his recent research, he utilizes performance/performativity theory and media theory to reconsider the shifting currents of cultural production under contemporary globalization, which is the topic of his book Anime’s Identity: Performativity and Form beyond Japan (University of Minnesota Press, 2021). He also extends this interdisciplinary theoretical approach to examine how anime can provide alternative perspectives on the ongoing crisis of environmental devastation.

Photo of Christine R. Yano

Christine R. Yano (Moderator)

Christine Yano, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawai`i, has conducted research on Japan and Japanese Americans with a focus on popular culture.  In 2020-2021 she served as the President of the Association for Asian Studies. She has served as Chair of the American Advisory Committee to Japan Foundation from 2018 to 2022. In 2022 she began her tenure as President-Elect of the Society for East Asian Anthropology, American Anthropological Association. Her publications include Tears of Longing: Nostalgia and the Nation in Japanese Popular Song (Harvard, 2002), Airborne Dreams: “Nisei” Stewardesses and Pan American World Airways (Duke, 2011), and Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty and its Trek Across the Pacific (Duke, 2013). Her latest book is Straight A’s: Asian American College Students in Their Own Words with Neal Akatsuka (Duke, 2018).