Transcultural media practices fostering cosmopolitan ethos in a digital age: engagements with East Asian media in Australia
Fran MARTIN, Koichi IWABUCHI , Grace GASSIN, and WaiLing SETO
ABSTRACT The increasingly transnational reach of East Asian media suggests that East Asia has become an ever more de-territorialized media zone. But what has been relatively neglected in the extant scholarship is in-depth consideration of how East Asian media culture has been transnationalised beyond the geographic boundaries of Asia, especially in the context of accelerating online content distribution. In this article, we propose that Australia provides a useful case study to illuminate the cultural impacts of East Asian media beyond Asia. What is Australia’s place in trans-Asia media circuits? Does the consumption of East Asian media by audiences in Australia enable them to develop increasingly reflexive understandings of cultural identity, in a turn toward everyday cosmopolitanism? Alternatively, might the new kind of mediasphere we witness emerging in Australia entail new forms of cultural encapsulation, or a proliferation of mutually disconnected ethno-specific media sphericules? Analysing in-depth qualitative interviews with 47 users of East Asian media in Australia, this article investigates how such media engagements open up and/or close down routes to reflexive transcultural practices for these media users; that is, it evaluates the potential of these media to cultivate cosmopolitan ethos in this context. We conclude that East Asian media in Australia may function for their users, paradoxically, as a cosmopolitan media niche within a national mediascape characterized more typically by cultural encapsulation.
KEYWORDS: East Asian media; Australia; transcultural media; cosmopolitanism; diasporic media
Notes on contributors
Fran Martin is Reader in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. She has published widely on television, film, literature, Internet culture and other forms of cultural production in the contemporary transnational Chinese cultural sphere, with a specialization in questions of gender, sexuality, and mobility. Recent publications include Telemodernities: Television and Transforming Lives in Asia (co-authored with Tania Lewis and Wanning Sun, Duke University Press 2016). She is currently completing a study of Chinese university students’ social and subjective experiences of studying in Australia with a focus on the gendered aspects of their educational ventures. Based on this her next book, under contract to Duke University Press, is entitled Dreams of Flight: Mobility and Gendered Subjectivity Among China’s Student Transmigrants.
Koichi Iwabuchi is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan. His main research interests are trans-Asian cultural flows and connections (including Australia) and diversity, multicultural questions, cultural diversity and cultural citizenship in the Japanese and East Asian contexts. His recent English publications include: Resilient Borders and Cultural Diversity: Internationalism, Brand Nationalism and Multiculturalism in Japan (Lexington Books, 2015); and “Trans-Asia as method: a collaborative and dialogic project in a globalized world,” in Trans-Asia as Method: Theory and Practices, edited by J. de Kloet, Y. F. Chow and G. P. L. Chong (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2019).
Grace Gassin is a Curator, New Zealand Histories and Cultures, at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Her research interests lie primarily in the histories and contemporary cultures of Asian Australasian communities, along with the repercussions of race, gender and power in Asian Australasian lives.
WaiLing Seto is a graduate student in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. She is interested in issues around migration, cultural belonging, popular culture and media consumption in Asia, Australia and other areas.