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Transcultural Flow of Demure Aesthetics: Examining Cultural Globalisation through Gothic & Lolita Fashion

Author(s): Masafumi Monden

Journal: New Voices : A Journal for Emerging Scholars of Japanese Studies in Australia and New Zealand
ISSN 1833-5233

Volume: 2;
Start page: 21;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Cultural Globalisation | Japanese Fashion | Goth Subculture | Cross-cultural appropriation | Aesthetics of Cute

The process of cultural globalisation does not always imply cultural homogenisation. Rather, it can be seen as a process of cultural ‘glocalisation’ and hybridisation where cultures continuously interact with and interpret each other to engender a hybrid cultural form. As Arjun Appadurai (1993) contends, neither centrality nor peripherality of culture exists in the context of cultural globalisation. Rather, transnational cultural forms are likely to circulate in multiple directions.This is particularly evident when examining Gothic & Lolita – a Japanese fashion trend which has emerged since the late 1990s. Applying Jan Nederveen Pieterse’s theory of ‘globalisation as hybridisation’ (2004), and Roland Robertson’s concept of ‘glocalisation’ (1995), this article attempts to explore how this fashion trend manifests the process of cultural ‘glocalisation’, hybridisation, and interaction through the localisation of Western Goth subculture and especially, historical European dress styles in Japan. In addition, it explores how the fashion signifies the idea of ‘reverse’ flow of culture through an ethnographic observation of an English-speaking online community devoted to the trend. The analysis of the online community also seeks to establish the idea that this transnational cultural flow serves as an alternative to the local culture.
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