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  » Issue contents  2018-07-24 “Gangnam Style” in Dhaka and inter-Asian refraction
“Gangnam Style” in Dhaka and inter-Asian refraction
 

Soo Ryon YOON

 

ABSTRACT  This essay explores the political implications of the flash mob dance in Dhaka, Bangladesh performed in response to the 2012 global viral sensation of South Korean rapper PSY’s “Gangnam Style” music video. The global fame of “Gangnam Style” has much to do with its success online and in the U.S. popular music industry. It, however, also solicited suspicion from popular culture critics that the images of comical PSY worked successfully thanks to unchecked consumption of the racial stereotypes of Asian men. While recognizing these problems as more than valid, this essay simultaneously calls for a more transnational and inter-Asian understanding of the material to argue for a productive quality of PSY’s performance. Using “refraction” as a mode of thinking about inter-Asian circulation of pop culture, this essay considers the flash mob performed in Dhaka, Bangladesh as an important yet underexplored case study that shows different performative practices associated with “Gangnam Style” deeply rooted in historicity of colonialism and nationalism. The case study shows that the circulation of “Gangnam Style” materialized through a performance in Dhaka enlarged contemporary discourse among young urban Bangladeshi spectators around Bangladeshiness and its cultural identity. This complicated an easy assumption about “Gangnam Style” and its success in the U.S. mainstream pop culture, while simultaneously displacing the Bangladeshi cultural subjects from the immobile position of “the Other.”
 
 
KEYWORDS: Gangnam Style; PSY; K-pop; Bangladesh; flash mob; dance; performance; Asian male; minor transnationalism; refraction

 

 

Notes on contributor
Soo Ryon Yoon is an assistant professor of performance studies in the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University. Her research interests include dance history and transnational circulation of performance in the context of contemporary racial politics and political economy in South Korea. A Fulbright scholar, Yoon holds a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. She was a postdoctoral associate in the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University in 2016-2017.

 

 
    

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Notes for contributors

Vol 19 No 2

19.2 visual essay

Vol 1-9

Vol 10-15

Vol 16 No 1-4

Vol 17 No 1-4

Vol 18 No 1

Vol 18 No 2

Vol 18 No 3

Vol 18 No 4

Vol 10 & 11 visual essay

Vol 12 & 13 visual essay

Vol 14-15 visual essay

Vol 16 & 17 visual essay

17.2 visual essay

17.3 visual essay

17.4 visual essay

18.1-3 visual essay

IACS Society

Consortium of IACS Institutions

Related Publications

IACS Conferences

网站连结

A Chronology