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Music and meaning-making at conventions for Eastern Asian popular culture in Sweden

Conference contribution
Authors Cecilia Björck
Published in 19th Biennial IASPM Conference: Popular Music Studies Today
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Keywords youth culture, Eastern Asian popular music, japanification, vocaloid music, game music
Subject categories Music education


This paper explores music and meaning-making in the context of conventions for Eastern Asian popular culture in Sweden. As part of a global movement termed a “japanification” of popular culture among children and youth (West, 2009), an increasing interest in elements from Eastern Asian popular culture can be discerned among Swedish youth. Conventions centred around such cultural elements are arranged for and by youth at various locations in Sweden, some of them attracting thousands of participants. Activities may vary but often relate to video games, manga and anime (Japanese comics and cartoons) and cosplay, where participants dress up and act as their favourite fictional character. The paper draws on around 100 hours of participatory observations at conventions and could be regarded as a kind of event ethnography, complemented by interviews with conventioneers of a wide age span. Music at conventions typically includes anime and game music, k-pop and j-pop, and vocaloid music where hologram artist sing with synthesized voices. Musical activities include karaoke and various forms of musical performances on stage, but also accompany a wide variety of other activities. The paper discusses how, through these activities, meanings of elements from Eastern Asian popular culture are negotiated and cross-culturally reenacted.

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