Center for Performance Studies Events


Digital Asia: K-Pop's Global Reach

"Digital Asia: Mediated Cultures and Networked Technologies" is a research stream designed to map the exponential growth of media industries and technology sectors in post-World War II Asia. From the rise of Bangalore as a global IT stronghold to the viral spread of unauthorized cell phones in North Korea, from Chinese citizens’ discussion of taboo political subjects on Clubhouse to K-pop fans’ online trolling of the #MAGA movement, Asia in the new millennium has proven to be a non-circumventable hub of digital traffic. A major player in today’s creative economy, Asia is characterized by innovative content production and community formation around emerging platforms, but has also witnessed unprecedented measures of censorship, surveillance, cyber bullying, and digital nationalism—all powered by cutting-edge technological capabilities.

Might there be a uniquely Asian way, both culturally and technologically, of understanding digital media? This research stream proposes to navigate the most flexible articulations of Asia today, in a humanistic exploration of technology that embraces discussions of the embodied experience, visuality, sound, new forms of sensory expression, and the culturally specific ways technology unfolds in Asia, spanning the period from the end of World War II to the present moment. It will devote equal attention to how digital media and technology function as the connective tissue of human society while often being blamed for its perceived decline. The series will speak to interdisciplinary readers interested in emergent AI studies, media and technology, pop culture, anthropology, and global Asian studies.

The questions the research stream hopes to explore include, but are not limited to:

  • § How does the idea of Asia take shape and come to matter through media technology? In other words, how do particular technologies make Asia visible, and to what end?
  • § How have different technologies relating to printed, visual, auditory, olfactory, haptic, and other media shaped embodied experience, a sense of subjectivity, bodies, and the everyday in Asia?
  • § How do digital media in Asia address the range of ecological and political crises that have occurred over the last decade in the region (including the rapid expansion of wastescapes in China, the India-China border conflict, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the current US-North Korea standoff)?
  • § How can we situate notions of virality, contagion, and risk that mold the social conditions of today’s Asia in a broader global digital environment? What kinds of networking and mediation do technologies facilitate in Asia and its relation to the world?