CFP: Manga and politics – The visual literacy of statecraft

Anthology on Manga and Politics
Editor: Roman Rosenbaum (University of Sydney)
Stichtag: 31.10.2017

The editor invites article proposals for a collected research edition that investigates the representation of politics in manga. The book explores the multifaceted relationship between Japan’s political storytelling practices, the media and bureaucratic discourses as played out in the visual arts by looking at contemporary narratives of Japan’s modern pop-cultural storytellers.

This is the second installment in a research series on Japanese graphic art and cultural studies. See Manga and the Representation of Japanese History, Routledge 2013 for details.

The contributors may pay particular attention to how neoliberalism under the Abenomics agenda recapitulates a brand of neo-nationalism in Japanese popular culture and society. This collection investigates the recent emergence of a zeitgeist of datsu-shinjitsu no seiji (脱真実の政治) or the ‘post-truth political’ landscape, and considers the influence of gyogi hōdō (虚偽報道, fake news) and Japanese populism via the textual analysis of the socio-political dimension of manga narrative in Japan. The papers presented in this collection may examine how a variety of artists work via cross-fertilisation and genre breaking techniques undermine hegemonic cultural constructs that support the status quo in Japanese society.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that unlike the bandes dessinées and American superhero comic traditions, contemporary manga are surprisingly apolitical and only engage with contentious subjects in allegorical ways that are often difficult to unravel by non-Japanese readers. However, whereas well-established manga narratives such as Keiji Nakazawa’s Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen, 1973), Tezuka Osamu’s Adorufu ni tsugu (Message to Adolf, 1983) and Kobayashi Yoshinori’s uncongenial narratives, may wear their ideological hearts on their sleeves, many other contemporary narratives employ more subtle techniques to disseminate their political message. Each period in Japanese history has their own specific graphic diction and contemporary popular graphic narratives are imbued by a rhetoric of precarity arising out of the post 3/11 triple catastrophe. Recent more self-reflective narratives are aware of their inherent potential to shape a diverse range of discourses via engaging a broad range of fields from media studies to anthropology, sociology, and especially history in a search for their own social-political agencies. With a specific focus on the mediality of graphic art, the research presented demonstrates that quite on the contrary, manga and by extension graphic art have always actively incorporated political discourse in their narrative structure to appeal to a broad audience.

While the focus of the book is the political agenda of pop-culture, the often subtle maneuverings and power struggles of contemporary manga are explored via the interaction of popular cultural and other media discourses such as history, sociology, psychology, media studies and literature. To what extent do contemporary activist writers incorporate innovative use of language in provocative fictional what-if scenarios, to undermine the status quo? How do the story telling practices of modern Japanese manga undermine apathetic conformist society and challenge consumerist society; capitalism and Japan’s neoliberal agenda.

Proposals should be no more than 250 words for articles of about 8000 words in length. Please email your question and proposal to Roman Rosenbaum at: by 31 October 2017. Please also include a short bio of no more than 100 words.

Contact Info:
Dr. Roman Rosenbaum
School of Languages and Cultures
Associate Editor, Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia (JOSA)
Level 6, Jane Foss Russell Building– KG02 | Darlington | NSW | 2006 T +61 2 9114 2060| F +61 2 9036 7993 | M +61 401 715 774
Contact Email:

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