15-11-2012 O'Loughlin at UWS on Post-Fukushima Activism

Digital Media Research Seminar

School of Humanities & Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney

Date: Thursday 15 November
Time: 1-3pm
Venue: EB2.21 Parramatta Campus, UWS, Cnr of James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road, Rydalmere.

All welcome.

Ben O’Loughlin, Royal Holloway, University of London

Post-Fukushima Activism and Global Indignation: The Mediality of Critique in Japan

This paper explores how digital media and political claims-making enabled activists in Japan to link their critique of the Japanese state to activism around the world in 2011, including the Indignados in Spain and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. The Japanese government was found lacking both in its pre-disaster planning and its inability to form a convincing strategic narrative about Japan’s future that could rally citizens after the 3/11 disaster. In response, activists and opposition voices started to drill down from specific policy complaints to the constitutive arrangements of the polity itself. This is a more abstract level of justification and one that is more easily linked to global struggles. This paper explores how these critical operations were launched from diverse political positions and through different medial practices and media forms, including Sakaguchi Kyohei’s best-selling book How to Build an Independent Country, film by the Radioactivists, the 'Sayonara Genpatsu' (Goodbye Nuclear Power) movement, and digital self-publishing by individual citizens. The paper applies an analytical framework derived from Boltanski and Thevenot’s work to examine how critique and justification operate through media ecologies marked by modulating experiences of distance, proximity, insecurity and uncertainty.