Daniel WhiteJan 7, 2023
Pop-Culture Japan and the Politics of Anxiety
Stanford University Press 2022
In Administering Affect: Pop-Culture Japan and the Politics of Anxiety (Stanford UP, 2022), Daniel White draws on extensive fieldwork in government ministries and government-adjacent organizations to explore Japan’s current “politics of anxiety,” the ways in which state administrators have transformed anxieties about Japan’s global geopolitical status into future-oriented programs of national branding and revitalization based on a narrowly defined vision of pop-culture as synecdoche and savior. Examining the so-called “Cool Japan” soft-power strategy and policymaking decisions to nominate anime favorite Doraemon as a cultural ambassador and icons of young women’s culture as “Ambassadors of Cute,” White shows that the anxieties driving Japan’s administrators are disseminated into the culture broadly. He also pays close attention to the gender politics of these campaigns and the instrumentalization of women as agents of national branding and soft-power politics.
Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages.