Publication Date: May 2010
RRP: $45.00
ISBN: 9780980464887
Format: Paperback
Size: 153mm x 234mm
Pages: 244
Category: Cultural Studies, Digital Cultures

Complicated Currents

Media Flows, Soft Power and East Asia

Edited by Daniel Black, Stephen Epstein and Alison Tokita

Open Access

East Asia is a powerhouse of economic and social development, with cultural industries that have burgeoned as countries in the region have generated consumer economies and a middle class. Despite ongoing security tensions, growing evidence suggests that a vigorous cultural trade in such commodities as comics, cinema and TV drama is creating a shared regional popular culture. The widespread diffusion of the Internet, and the concomitant rise of non-professional online publishing and social networking, is creating new communities among the consumers of these cultural commodities. Rivalry for leadership in the sphere of the culture industries provides a fertile field for the study of soft market power versus hard political power. The competing national discourses of the Korean Wave (hallyu) and Japan’s Gross National Cool indicate a struggle for new forms of influence in the East Asian region, a struggle that is becoming more intense as China, too, starts to exert soft power influence on a global scale in the form of cultural industries and foreign aid.

Complicated Currents: Media Flows, Soft Power and East Asia addresses transnational production and consumption of media products such as cinema, television dramas, popular music, comics and animation in Japan, South Korea and China. Its multidisciplinary approaches include cultural studies, gender studies, media studies, and a content analysis of the popular discourse of otherness in the East Asian context. While suggesting the emergence of a shared East Asian popular consumer culture, it critically examines the proposition that such a shared popular culture can resolve tensions between nation-states, and highlights the appropriation of popular culture by nation-states in an attempt to exercise soft power.

Complicated Currents: Media Flows, Soft Power and East Asia will be of interest to researchers and students in Asian Studies, Cultural Studies and Media Studies, and will be particularly useful to researchers in the emerging area of Inter-Asian Cultural Studies.


  • Daniel Black, Monash University
  • Young-A Cho, Monash University
  • Kukhee Choo, National University of Singapore / University of Tokyo
  • Gloria Davies, Monash University
  • M.E. Davies, Monash University
  • Stephen Epstein, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Sun Jung, Victoria University
  • Michael Keane, Queensland University of Technology
  • Chul-joo Lee, Ohio State University
  • Hyangjin Lee, Rikkyo University
  • Roald Maliangkay, The Australian National University
  • Peter Murphy, Monash University
  • Jane Chi Hyun Park, University of Sydney
  • Jung-Sun Park, California State University at Dominguez Hills
  • Rowan Pease, University of Roehampton
  • June Woong Rhee, Seoul National University
  • Alison Tokita, Monash University
  • Chie Yamanaka, Jin’ai University
  • Brian Yecies, University of Wollongong

Daniel Black, Stephen Epstein and Alison Tokita

Daniel Black is a Lecturer in Communications and Media Studies at Monash University in Australia. His area of expertise is Japanese popular culture. His work has appeared in journals such as ContinuumJournal of Popular Culture, and Metro.

Stephen Epstein is the Director of the Asian Studies Programme at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. He has published widely on contemporary Korean society and literature and has also translated or co-translated numerous works of Korean and Indonesian fiction, including Contradictions, by Yang Gwi-ja (Cornell East Asia Series, 2005), Who Ate Up All the Shinga?, by Park Wan-suh, (Columbia University Press, 2009) and The Long Road by Kim In-suk (MerwinAsia, forthcoming 2010). He is currently working on a book entitled Korea and its Neighbours: Popular Media and National Identity in the Twenty-First Century.

Alison Tokita is Associate Professor of Japanese Studies in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University in Australia, where she has also been Director of the Japanese Studies Centre. She has published widely in Japanese studies, including as co-editor of The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music and as editor-in-chief of six refereed volumes of papers under the general title Japanese Studies: Communities, Cultures, Critiques. Her areas of expertise include Japanese performing arts, international marriage, Japanese popular culture, and Japanese diaspora.