Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2023 6:30 PM - Tuesday, March 14, 2023 8:00 PM
Location: Temple University, Japan Campus (Access) 1-14-29 Taishido, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan 154-0004


  • Mathieu Deflem (Ph.D., University of South Carolina)


In this presentation, Mathieu Deflem will lecture about the celebrity activism on racial justice that emerged in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing especially on the activities by tennis star Naomi Osaka. Celebrity activism during the first year of the pandemic radically turned to matters of racial justice in the wake of the video-taped police killing of George Floyd. In this lecture, activism is analyzed in terms of the motives and objectives on the part of the celebrities, on the one hand, and the reception thereof by the public and in the media, on the other. Professor Deflem concentrates on the case of Naomi Osaka’s activism as a particularly successful effort, enabling the Japanese-born athlete to acquire a central position in the American world of celebrity activism. This lecture shows that the racial justice activism embraced by Osaka and other celebrities developed in function of the dynamics of contemporary celebrity culture, rather than as an exponent of racial justice currents. As such, racial justice itself became an object of celebrity culture.

Date & Time:

Tuesday, March 14, 2023 18:30-20:00


Temple University Japan Campus, Room 110 (Map)


Registration is required

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Note: this is a hybrid event, with an in-person lecture and live-streaming via zoom


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.


Mathieu Deflem

Ph.D., University of South Carolina
Mathieu Deflem

Mathieu Deflem, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC (USA). His research and teaching interests include popular culture, law and social control, and social theory. Recent and ongoing work concerns the dynamics of celebrity activism during and since COVID-19, and research towards the development of a comparative-transnational perspective on law and popular culture in Japan and the United States. Information:

Publications related to the lecture:

  • Deflem, M. 2022. “Celebrity Activism on Racial Justice during COVID-19: The Death of George Floyd, the Rise of Naomi Osaka, and the Celebritization of Race in Pandemic Times.” International Review of Sociology 32 (1):63-87.
  • Deflem, M. 2022. “The Criminal Justice Activism of Naomi Osaka: A Case Study in the Criminology of Celebrity Culture.” American Journal of Criminal Justice, April 21, 2022.

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