Post-3/11 Japan and the Radical Recontextualization of Value: Music, Social Media, and End-Around Strategies for Cultural Action

"Post-3/11 Japan and the Radical Recontextualization of Value: Music, Social Media, and End-Around Strategies for Cultural Action" International Journal of Japanese Sociology Volume 20, Issue 1, pages 4–17, November 2011

“Post-3/11 Japan and the Radical Recontextualization of Value: Music, Social Media, and End-Around Strategies for Cultural Action”
International Journal of Japanese Sociology
Volume 20, Issue 1, pages 4–17, November 2011

The disasters of 3/11 provoked a global outpouring of emotion towards the suffering in Japan. In many ways, this singular event seemed to refigure the meanings of community and technology by drawing attention to the fragility of human control in times of disaster. Although the long-term consequences remain uncertain, this radical recontextualization of value points to a way of thinking about broader processes of change, a contrast to cultural analysis that proceeds by directly critiquing structures of power on their own terms. If we look to processes whereby a new context can be the impetus that undermines seemingly entrenched interests, we might find inspiration for alternative forms of critique and action. Music provides a model for cultural movements that do not attack power directly, but rather operate through this kind of slippery, insidious, “end-around” strategy of change that gains its force from recontextualizing social logics. These features of music foreshadow some of the contemporary developments in social media, and may point to untapped potentials for subverting, and possibly transforming, enduring structures of power and inequality.

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Ian Condry

About Ian Condry

Ian Condry is a cultural anthropologist interested in globalization from below, that is, cultural movements that go global without the push of major corporations or governments. He has written books on hip-hop as it developed in Japan (Hip-Hop Japan, 2006) and Japanese animation as a global force (The Soul of Anime, 2013). His current research explores music and inequality, that is, examining how new social and economic approaches to music offer insights into the varieties of capitalism, and their differing contributions to inequality. Condry teaches courses that emphasize ethnographic approaches to media and culture, including Japanese popular culture, anime and cinema, as well as a graduate-level seminar in media theory and methods. He founded and organizes the MIT Cool Japan research project, which studies the critical potential of popular culture. He also co-directs, with TL Taylor, the Creative Communities Initiative, using ethnography to advance new solutions to old problems.

 
 

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