Subversion and Reification of Cultural Identity in Global Fandoms
Georgetown University. Communication, Culture & Technology Graduate Program
As nations continue to open up to the global market and invite the commercialization and appropriation of native texts, a renegotiation process regarding the power dynamics of cultural influence for both native producers and international consumers occurs. In the context of the anime fandom, these power dynamics become particularly subversive, as fans/consumers often become the primary vehicle of translation and cross-cultural communications, despite the fact that many international fans are not from the text’s country of origin. In particular, this subversion is exemplified through the informal translation practices of the anime fandom, where fans take Japanese texts and translate them for non-Japanese speaking fans, often for no monetary compensation. Whether these fans can be considered valid interpreters of anime culture is a point of contention that will be discussed in this paper. By constantly interacting with media subcultures abroad and creating social practices and vernaculars specific to the worldwide fandom, anime fans create nation-like global community that simultaneously consumes, destroys, and recreates cultures in a manner that suits their local environment. I conclude that international fandoms like the global anime fan community are sites that may have the potential to undermine national boundaries, despite the fact that local cultures continue to exercise hegemonic influence over our cultural identities.
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