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K-pop and the West: Media, Fandom, and Transnational Politics

Posted: June 6th, 2023 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

The Asia Research Institute, University at Buffalo (UB), the State University of New York October 27-28, 2023

The University at Buffalo’s Asia Research Institute will host its second annual Korean studies symposium, “K-pop and the West: Media, Fandom, and Transnational Politics,” on October 27- 28, 2023. The symposium aims at creating an opportunity to think about research, pedagogy, and methodologies in our critical study of K-pop in the West. There has been some debate about whether K-pop’s popularity in the U.S. market represents its status as a mainstream—as compared to an ethnic—pop genre. Some would argue that the current success of K-pop be viewed as a collective achievement of K-pop fans. In this view, American fans have, in particular, “fought against” the U.S. media industry’s commercial devaluation of K-pop and their racially discriminatory practices that adversely affect K-pop artists.

The UB Asia Research Institute calls for proposals that critically engage in interdisciplinary dialogues among fields of humanities and social sciences. Drawing from the expertise of our keynote scholars Dr. Dafna Zur, Stanford University, and Dr. Thomas Baudinette, Macquarie University, the symposium seeks proposals from various disciplines and theoretical approaches addressing, but not limited to, the following questions: How do Western media, fandom, and academia contribute to the formation of K-pop and its global circulation? What are the potentials and limits that we encounter as K-pop scholars in Western academia? How do actors in the K-pop world engage in translocal politics and public discourses in the West?

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

Globalization: music and media circulation; transnational development and localization of Korean popular music; making of the K-pop production system; Western hegemony in K-pop nation branding: postcolonial or Orientalist formation of Koreanness; marketing strategies in the Western market; imagining Korea through K-pop

Fandom: participatory culture in Anglophone K-pop fandom; fan activism; fans as promoters; K- fans and K-media; Koreaboos; K-pop tourism; Korean language and translation

Gender and sexuality: K-pop bodies and Asian stereotypes; understanding K-pop as androgynous, queer, and/or patriarchal; critiques of soft masculinity; Western representation of K-pop “fangirls”

K-pop pedagogy: how to apply participatory culture and ethnography; how to avoid cultural misunderstanding and mistranslation; creative ways to teach K-pop

Race and racial politics: K-pop fans’ engagement in American/Western racial politics; racism in Western music/media industries; circulation and formation of race in K-pop; non-Korean K-pop idols

Western media and Orientalism: critiques of “the dark side of K-pop”; K-pop artists’ social mobility and glass ceiling in Western pop scenes; media ethics; (mis)translation of Korean language and culture

For this symposium, the Asia Research Institute seeks submissions from researchers of all stages in interdisciplinary fields of humanities and social sciences. Presenters must be present at the symposium in person, although the presentations will be livestreamed. To apply, please send your CV with a 250-word abstract in a single PDF file to [email protected]. We are accepting proposals until July 15, 2023, and notifications will be sent by mid-August, 2023. The Asia Research Institute will provide local hotel accommodations and meals during the symposium to all participants whose papers are accepted. In addition, there will be a limited number of modest travel grants available by application to those who are in need of further support.

The University at Buffalo Asia Research Institute is a multidisciplinary hub and collaborative space for research and education about Asia and its diasporic communities. The institute leverages and amplifies existing UB faculty expertise on many regions of Asia; provides enriching research and experiential learning opportunities for students; and engages with local Asian and Asian heritage communities through educational and cultural programming to promote a diverse and inclusive environment.

This symposium is possible because of funding from the Academy of Korean Studies, South Korea.

Please email [email protected] with any questions on the symposium.

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