Azuma Hiroki and Miyadai Shinji speak on "Class and Generation: Otaku, Freeters, and the Contemporary History of Leftist Discourse in Japan"

Mon, March 30, 2009

AZUMA Hiroki, MIYADAI Shinji, Shion KONO
Moderator: Jonathan ABEL
Chair: Kirsten CATHER
Interpreters: Maeri Megumi, Joshihiro Mochizuki

Since 2007, an emerging political discourse has centered on the economic and generational differences acutely felt by Japan's "lost generation." Does this signal a beginning of a productive conversation on politics and culture or has it already been co-opted by the old left? How are these issues discussed in Japanese critical discourse today? What do these symptoms suggest about the state of Japanese liberal/leftist discourses today?

In what ways is the "public" being defined and re-defined in Japan today? What kinds of subcultures lend themselves to promoting the left? What kind of leftism can these subcultures promote? How have youth movements and youth cultures met in the public arena? Where is there synergy and when is there cognitive dissonance between these points? Are they ever reconciliable?

To what extent are the new technologies of communication, youth-associated technologies (cell phones, internet) changing the nature of the social space called the public? How have otaku culture and shojo culture impacted this space? Does the radical position vis a vis such a space continue to be a leftist one? To what extent do the lifestyles and work schedules of freetas represent a radical change?

Required readings are listed below.

Akagi Tomohiro, "War is the Only Solution"
Azuma Hiroki, "Azuma's blog entry on critical discourse and politics"
Tomiko Yoda, "A Roadmap to Millenial Japan" in Japan After Japan

For more information about the workshop series, and other links, visit the Mapping Japanese Theory website.

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