Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 58

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS morphic” patterns, culture fluidly interplays the political with the economic (Appadurai 1990:301, 306). Unlike propaganda, popular culture does not come from the top-down only or in one direction. And given its multiple flows, popular culture dissolves binary categories of Self vs Other, creating “third spaces” (Appadurai 1990; Bhabha 2004) or “hybrid/syncretic/mixed/creolized” forms (Pieterse 2009:86). Popular culture thus comprises a political process, not just a source of entertainment or a tool for state power. This study aims to reassess the role of popular culture in IR by exploring the way that popular culture makes, remakes, and dissolves borders. I pay primary attention to what L.H.M. Ling calls “multiple co-existing emotional worlds” (Ling 2014:579): that is, multiple, mutually-interactive worlds transcend binary structures. An awareness of their emotional worlds helps us to realize how each world or society can affect others. Addi- tionally, emotional worlds have a potential to articulate and promote domestic sources of agency. With South Korea’s popular culture focusing on the 2016 “Tzuyu Incident” as an interpretive case study, this article shows how popular culture crosses borders to gen- erate the intensity of political-cultural reactions in Taiwan and South Korea, disputing the notion that presumed borders become fixed and permanent. 2 It also demonstrates that the process of dissolving borders does not necessarily lead to permanent opening of boundaries nor preventing nationalistic feelings from emerging. The “Tzuyu Incident” thus serves as a useful cultural case as an instance of the border-making process of pop- ular culture, which could contribute to filling a “space” in understanding workings of popular culture in IR. 3 This finding allows me to suggest that multiple emotional worlds include nationalistic sentiments and memories, breaking down binaries while invoking them at the same time. 4 I argue that popular culture entails contradictory processes of crossing and delim- iting borders, a site where an individual’s world-historical sensibilities are evoked in a way that makes borders not only dissolved to bring people from different nations to- gether, but also, at the same time, demarcated by reinforcing nationalistic sentiments. These seeming contradictions are not fixed, however. Popular culture makes borders ev- er-changing, constructing and reconstructing identities of people inside and outside the nation with its multi-directionality. The process of dissolving and demarcating boundar- ies is important because popular culture permits us to recognize political processes that take place across borders beyond state relations as well as the operations of nationalistic sentiments within borders. This article first provides an overview of the conceptual intersections of popular culture, identity construction, and making and remaking borders. Then, it introduces how the Tzuyu Incident erupted. Next, I examine how the incident generated salience of dis- 2 An interpretive case study interprets an event and shows that “one or more known theories can be extended to account for a new event” (Odell 2001:163). 3 George and Bennett note that a study of each subtype of a general phenomenon “fills a ‘space’” in the overall development of theory (2005:78). 4 I appreciate L.H.M. Ling’s inspiration for this idea. 58