Constructing the Cultural Public Sphere of and Beyond Japan: Fluidity and Dynamics in East Asia

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Constructing the Cultural Public Sphere of and Beyond Japan: Fluidity and Dynamics in East Asia
Stream: Sociology
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Tiantian Diao, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (organizer, presenter)
Nalanda Robson, Monash University, Australia (presenter)
Minhyeok Kwon, Korea University, South Korea (presenter)
Fenju Wang, Nankai University, China (presenter)
Chikara Uchida, The University of Tokyo, Japan (discussant)
Yijiang Zhong, The University of Tokyo, Japan (chair)


Jürgen Habermas highlighted the development of bourgeois public spheres, which refers to a mediating domain between private and public authorities that emerged in eighteenth-century Europe. To account for increasingly complicated social realities, McGuigan proposes the idea of the cultural public sphere, referring to articulation of politics, public and personal terrains through effective modes of communication. The construction of the cultural public sphere can be a by-product generated by the political policies’ adoption, the commercial imperatives of organizations, the public’s motivation to improve personal lives, or the interaction of the above-mentioned factors. The existing research focuses more on the cultural public sphere constructed through the flow of Japanese popular culture.

In order to expand the discussion and underscore the dynamic cultural public sphere’s construction of, and beyond Japan, this panel brings together four papers. Nalanda’s study sheds light on how the modern culture of caring for the elderly in Japanese hospitals is being transferred to reform Thailand’s rehabilitation model through cross-border adoption and adaptation of policies. Minhyeok’s paper combines literature and tourism studies and elaborates on the cultural public sphere’s establishment at the Kamakura literary museum in Japan. The other two papers probe the dynamics of the Japan-related cultural public sphere in China. Fenju’s paper is located in a historical and colonial context and explores the intentional creation of the cultural public sphere on the Hainan Island by Japanese settlers during wartime. Tiantian examines the popularization of the “Japan-narrative” in the mediatized cultural public sphere in liberal-oriented Chinese newspapers.