Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 60

KOREAN POPULAR CULTURE AND HISTORICAL SENSIBILITIES IN EAST ASIA courses of Taiwanese identity in Taiwan during its presidential election in 2016. The following section surveys South Korean netizens’ discursive reactions to the Tzuyu Incident. Then, I assess how popular culture enacts the contradictory process of inscribing and loosening borders by drawing on historical sensibilities and emotions. I conclude with the implications of the findings by rethinking the role of popular culture in IR. It allows us to understand the working of “multiple co-existing emotional worlds” as a site that generates political processes of making and re-making borders. By demonstrating that popular culture in East Asia flows multi-directionally and evokes local agency as a way to articulate identity, this article highlights that popular culture generates political processes of mixing and de-mixing subjectivities. To review the case, I use newspapers. These constitute what Weldes (2006) refers to as “high data”; and comments posted on them via Internet, “low data.” High data refer to “official or semiofficial sources circulating among elites and from elites to various public” including policy documents, speeches, and newspapers (181–182), while low data denote “the everyday, mundane representations that make meaningful and commonsensical, and sometimes challenge, dominant representations” such as film, advertisements and the Internet (182–185). Mainstream IR typically marginalizes popular culture; it tends to focus on “high politics” defined by diplomacy, security, and international economics (Weldes 2006:177; Rowley 2010:309). In this view, popular cultures would be deemed important so far as it could be demonstrated to “have caused some kind of effect within these formal sites of activity,” such as policy outcomes (Grayson et al. 2009:155). Official policy documents thus serve as the main credible evidence or data for understanding world politics (Weldes 2006:177–178). However, this focus neglects how understandings of world politics are produced “in and through the mundane cultures of people’s everyday experiences,” particularly popular culture (Weldes 2006:178). I seek to examine how such understandings are generated by examining both newspapers as high data and interviews and comments posted on them via Internet as low data. This permits us to investigate people’s quotidian experiences, thoughts, and ideas about themselves and others as well as their views about their nations and the world. Popular Culture, Identity Construction, and Border-Making Popular culture circulating in the media space, such as YouTube, involves texts and images including textual, auditory, visual, and discursive properties. These representations produce values, conceptions, and meanings (Orgad 2012:17–18). Production, consumption, and dissemination of popular cultural products are enmeshed in transformative processes of meaning-making and identity-making (Weldes and Rowley 2015:20–21). Popular culture shapes identity by delineating who we are and how we should feel about “us” and “them” (Duncombe and Bleiker 2015:36, 41; Nieguth and Wilton 2015:11). Importantly, the process of identity construction entails demarcating the boundaries between the self and the other, which is inherently unbounded (Neumann 1999:36). Dissolving and demarcating borders is a political process, and boundaries that delimit 59