The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Popular cultures in Southeast Asia: Identity, nation-state and globalization

Joint Research Coordinator FUKUOKA Madoka

Reserch Theme List


Southeast Asia, popular culture, identity


Southeast Asia is home to a great variety of popular culture. The research objectives of this project are to examine forms of cultural expression and corporeal symbolism in globalizing modern societies, and thus clarify the processes by which differences in gender, ethnicity, language, religions, and class give rise to identity. In Southeast Asia, our target region, most nation-states are multicultural entities that freed themselves from colonialism in the latter half of the twentieth century and are still in search of national identities. These postcolonial nations all contain differences in ethnicity and religion, region, social class, and gender. Under the impact of globalization, many expressions of culture have been decentered, deregionalized, commercialized, and fragmented. They have been repeatedly reinterpreted in ways that transcend existing cultural boundaries. This research focuses on the media and popular culture industries in contemporary Southeast Asia, examining them as sites of both production and consumption of cultural expression, and paying special attention to music, performance, literature, film, art and fashion, to better understand the formation of identity and self-perception.