Exploring Japanese popular culture and academia

Honolulu CC History professor to participate at annual Kawaii Kon Convention

Honolulu Community College
Billie K T Lueder, (808) 845-9187
Director of Communications & External Affairs, Chancellor's Office
Posted: Mar 20, 2015

Patrick Patterson
Patrick Patterson

Assistant Professor of History, Patrick Patterson along with Dr. Jayson Chun of the University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu will be presenting on two panels at the upcoming Kawaii Kon Convention on March 27 – 29 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. 

· Academia and Anime: Professors look at anime, manga and J-pop culture.

· From Evangelion to Attack on Titan - Japan's Post-Bubble Generation

“We will discuss the relevance of academic studies by scholars such as Stuart Hall, Pierre Bourdieu, Christine Yano, and others to the study of Japanese popular culture – particularly J-pop (popular music), but also relating to cosplay, anime, and manga, and the way that subcultures work within Japanese society as means of identity expression and historical primary sources,” Patterson shares.

“These two topics are pretty contemporary for a historian, but I will be applying theories to these contemporary issues in the same way that I apply them to more historical evidence, looking for ways to deepen our understanding of cultural undercurrents that help us to see how Japanese view their position in history, society, and the world.”

Cosplay is something that a constantly growing number of Americans engage in. In Hawai‘i, with its close cultural ties to Japan, that is even stronger. Cosplayers do this for a number of reasons. Some like to dress up and escape their daily reality while others do it to express what they see as their true personalities. By dressing in extreme ways that are different in every way from their work-a-day realities, they feel free to be themselves. 

Patterson continues, “This is a theory I will discuss in one of the presentations, that some are taking a serious social stand. Kyari Pamyupamyu, a singer who had a concert here in Honolulu last year, which I attended, is in many ways much more than the cute materialist that her music, costumes, and videos suggest. I think she is a kind of feminist – one for whom embracing the cute is a way of defending herself against the sexism and objectification directed at women by men.”

Kawaii Kon is a three-day convention dedicated to promoting a greater awareness and appreciation for all fandoms with an emphasis on Japanese animation, culture, and traditions. Since the first convention in 2005, Kawaii Kon has grown to include thousands of annual attendees. Fans, artists and industry guests gather from all over the world for the 3-Day extravaganza.