Conference Ljubljana 2014 – Section 5b: Media Studies – Report Griseldis KIRSCH&Blai GUARNÉ

Griseldis KIRSCH
SOAS, University of London
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

This was the first time that a section on Japanese media studies has been convened at an EAJS conference. For that reason, we had an open call for papers and welcomed scholars of all levels working on any aspect of Japanese media. As convenors we were very happy to see the interest aroused by the section and, due to the high number of quality proposals received in the call for papers, we were glad to schedule a parallel session on the third day of the conference.

As inaugural keynote speaker we had the honor to have Professor Iwabuchi Koichi (Monash University, Australia) who delivered a lecture titled “Paradigm Shift in the Critical Study of Media Culture? – Some Thoughts from Japanese Cases.”  In his keynote address, Professor Iwabuchi highlighted the significance of critical media studies in the wake of 3/11, combining both theoretical considerations on media and their role in society with more practical elements of analysis. His trip to Europe was possible thanks to the co-founding of the Great British Sasakawa Foundation, the University of Vienna, and the Faculty of Languages and Cultures at SOAS, University of London.

After Professor Iwabuchi’s keynote speech on the Thursday morning, we had an entire day on media and gender. Three panel-sessions took place: “Interdisciplinary Analysis of TV Dramas: The Example of Kaseifu no Mita,” chaired by Hilaria Gössmann (University of Trier, Germany); “Culture of Their Own? Questioning Gender Normativity in Japanese Media Cultures,” chaired by Elizabeth Grace (University of Cambridge, UK); and individual papers presented under the rubric “Media and Gender,” in a session chaired by Blai Guarné (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain). The papers presented in those panels approached the constructions of gender in the media from various angles and through various genres. Two of the panels had been pre-organised, one of which ran entirely in Japanese and was on a television drama that was extremely successful after 3/11, Kaseifu no Mita. The other was on gender normativities in various media/genres.

On the Friday, we ran parallel sessions throughout the day. In one of the sessions, we had a panel on Fukushima and film titled “3.11 Cinema – Disaster and the Nuclear Unconscious in Post-Fukushima Films.” The panel was chaired by Livia Monnet (University of Montreal, Canada), and Thomas Lamarre (McGill University, Canada) acted as discussant. This panel was followed by various individual papers gathered in three different panels around the topics of “Historical Media,” “Media and Memory,” and “Media and Politics.” Simultaneously, in the parallel sessions, we enjoyed two subsequent panels on historical picture postcards as media focused on the topics of “Imagi(ni)ng History” and “Imagi(ni)ng Modernity,” that were respectively chaired by Sepp Linhart (University of Vienna, Austria) and Susanne Formanek (University of Vienna, Austria). These panels were followed by individual papers that addressed the two main topics to which the day was devoted, media and disaster, and media and historical records, as well as another pre-organised session on mediated voices chaired by Kerim Yasar (Ohio State University, USA) under the rubric “The Voice in the Machine – Mediated Voices in Historical and Anthropological Perspectives.” 

On the Saturday, we started the day with another pre-organised session on “Trans-national Agents and Social Change in Japanese Cinema – 1920s-1960s,” that was chaired by Griseldis Kirsch (SOAS, University of London, UK), and we closed the section program with the individual papers presented in the panel session “Media and the Fantastic.”

All in all, we ran seven pre-organised panels and nineteen individual papers.  The speakers came from various countries, including, but not limited to, Japan, Canada, the US, the UK, Germany and Spain. We had far more submissions than we could accommodate, and it was a very successful first conference for the Media Studies section. 

The convenors wish to thank the organising committee in Ljubljana for their efficiency and swift help for whichever problems arose, as well as the EAJS and the funding bodies that made Professor Iwabuchi’s trip to Europe possible. We are looking forward to another successful section in Lisbon in 2017.