At the East Asian Institute @ Leipzig University:

Japan’s modernity has been formed in three different system-specific constellations and corresponding self- and hetero-descriptions, i.e. formations of identity discourses. For the Meiji-System they can be summarized as Japonisme or Nipponism (with the focus on an aestheticized high-culture), for the post-war system as Nihon/jin-ron (everyday and consumer goods), and the last 1 ½ decades can be labeled Cool Japan or J-culture.

Continuously, images of the “Self” have been constructed by internalizing the foreign/western perspective. At the same time, this heteronomy has always been a field consisting of three elements, that means, national identity has always been constructed via the ethnic triade “West-Japan-(East-) Asia”. There are, however, also striking differences between the J-culture discourse and the previous two discourse formations: first, the dominance of popular cultural elements, such as Manga, Anime, Games, pop music, fashion, food; and, secondly, the multitude and variety of actors engaged in this discourse, reaching from so-called “ordinary” people (not only youngsters !) up to political and other elites.

J–culture is fundamentally formed by the two semantic fields of cool and beautiful. […more…]


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