Participatory media fandom: a case study of anime fansubbing

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Recent years have seen the rise of consumers’ voluntary translation and distribution of foreign cultural products on a global scale. Such a practice not only facilitates the grassroots globalization of culture but also questions the cultural industries’ current model of global distribution. This article explores the nature and implications of fan-translation and distribution of cultural commodities through a case study of English fansubbing of anime (subtitling of Japanese animation in English). Anime fansubbing is situated at the disjuncture of the global mediascape, which intensifies with the increasing public access to means to copy and share, the expansion of collective knowledge and the rise of fans’ voluntary labour coordinated on a global scale. It exemplifies participatory media fandom whose globalization exceeds that of cultural industries in terms of extent and velocity. The article argues that fansubbing, pursued as a hobby, can unsettle the global mediascape by allowing multiple mediations of cultural text and presenting a new model of content distribution and its organization based on consumers’ voluntary work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1147
Number of pages17
JournalMedia Culture & Society
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


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