Animating transcultural communities: animation fandom in North America and East Asia from 1906-2010

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Annett, Sandra
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This dissertation examines the role that animation plays in the formation of transcultural fan communities. A “transcultural fan community” is defined as a group in which members from many national, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds find a sense of connection across difference, engaging with each other through a mutual interest in animation while negotiating the frictions that result from their differing social and historical contexts. The transcultural model acts as an intervention into polarized academic discourses on media globalization which frame animation as either structural neo-imperial domination or as a wellspring of active, resistant readings. Rather than focusing on top-down oppression or bottom-up resistance, this dissertation demonstrates that it is in the intersections and conflicts between different uses of texts that transcultural fan communities are born. The methodologies of this dissertations are drawn from film/media studies, cultural studies, and ethnography. The first two parts employ textual close reading and historical research to show how film animation in the early twentieth century (mainly works by the Fleischer Brothers, Ōfuji Noburō, Walt Disney, and Seo Mitsuyo) and television animation in the late twentieth century (such as The Jetsons, Astro Boy and Cowboy Bebop) depicted and generated nationally and ethnically diverse audiences. Exactly how such diversity was handled varied according to the specific animation producers, distributors, and consumers involved. And yet, all of these cases exemplify models of textual engagement and modes of globalization that have a continuing influence today. Building on the basis of twentieth-century animation, the third part of the dissertation illustrates the risks and potentials that attend media globalization in the Internet era of the early twenty-first century. The web media texts There She Is!! (2003) and Hetalia: Axis Powers (2006) are analyzed alongside results from a survey of animation fans conducted online and at fan events in Canada, the United States, and Japan between July 2009 and September 2010. This dissertation thus demonstrates the different ways of living together in the world generated by the global crossings and clashes of social life and mediated imaginaries today.
animation, anime, community, fans, globalization, new media, film, television, Japan, South Korea, Canada, United States