Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2023 3:50 PM - Tuesday, February 21, 2023 5:20 PM


  • Daniel White (University of Cambridge)


Popular culture in Japan includes a wide and wild variety of commodities, practices, and styles. Pop-Culture Japan, however, is a different figure altogether: a version of Japan-as-national culture that is imagined primarily by Japan’s male bureaucrats as a potential remedy to the nation’s declining economic prowess and perceived geopolitical influence since the early 1990s. In this regard, Pop-Culture Japan emerges in response to a growing sense of anxiety among state administrators and is managed by bureaucrats who are emotionally sensitive to the state’s image abroad and endeavor to care for it accordingly.

Based on the speaker’s recent book Administering Affect: Pop-Culture Japan and the Politics of Anxiety, this presentation describes recent changes in Japanese national culture through the figure of Pop-Culture Japan. Drawing on 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork among Japan’s state administrators, it discusses various creative policy programs such as anime diplomats, “Cool Japan” branding campaigns, and especially the so-called “Ambassadors of Cute” in order to demonstrate the gendered links between practices of managing national culture and the circulation of anxiety among Japanese publics.

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Date & Time:

Tuesday, February 21, 2023 15:50-17:20

This event is organized by the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS).

Note: All ICAS events are held in English, open to the public, and admission is free unless otherwise noted.


Daniel White

University of Cambridge
Charles A. Casto

Daniel White is research affiliate in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He studies the mutual production of emotion, politics, and emerging media technologies, with geographic concentrations on Japan and the UK. His book, Administering Affect: Pop-Culture Japan and the Politics of Anxiety traces how affects of geopolitical insecurity among Japan’s state bureaucrats became transformed into feelings of hope through policies advancing the nation’s culture industries. Professor White currently co-leads a project called Model Emotion, where he collaborates with computer scientists, psychologists, robotics engineers, and social scientists to examine practices of emotion modeling in the development of affect-sensitive software, social robots, and artificial emotional intelligence. His publications and ongoing projects can be found at .

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