Department: Foreign Languages & Literature
Ian Condry specializes in contemporary Japan, with a focus on media, popular culture, and globalization. His first book Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization was published in October 2006 from Duke University Press. It is an ethnography of the Japanese rap music scene, exploring issues of race, gender, language, popular music history, and cultural politics primarily through the perspectives of Japanese musicians. Through fieldwork starting 1995-97, he focused on the "genba" (nightclubs, or "actual site") of Japan's hip-hop scene. He argues that the paths of cultural globalization lead through specific sites of performance, such as nightclubs and recording studios. Such locations help us more deeply understand the dialogue between global/local, producer/consumer, artist/industry.
His current research project is Global Anime: The Making of Japan's Transnational Popular Culture. He is interested in the making of global anime cultures, focusing on the creators in Tokyo studios, but also considering wider connections to Asia and the US. What drives the creativity of anime? How does online sharing (or piracy) of anime affect its transnational flows? How are love and sexuality portrayed in the current "moe" boom? Why are there so many giant robots? Anime offers a case study in global media and the transnational dynamics of Japanese culture. He gratefully acknowledges support from the the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Harvard's Program on US-Japan Relations, and the National Science Foundation.
Since January 2006, he has been organizing the research project Cool Japan: Media, Culture, Technology at MIT and Harvard. The project involves colloquia and international conferences to examine the cultural connections, dangerous distortions, and critical potential of popular culture. Sponsored by MIT Japan Program, Harvard's Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the Harvard Asia Center, MIT Foreign Languages and Literatures, and MIT Comparative Media Studies.