Accepted Paper:

Unruly globalization: thinking through the formation of bootleg subjectivity in (in)visible Tokyo  


Yoshinobu Ota (Kyushu University)

Paper short abstract:

An ethnographic analysis of bootlegging subjectivity as a form of unruly globalization.

Paper long abstract:

Globalization, in the words of James Clifford, names the complex sum of multidirectional material and cultural connections. Popular music in various forms has always been global. In viewing rock music in terms of globalization as defined above, I notice a less “visible,” often labeled as deviant activity: I call this marginalized activity as bootlegging and its resultant, bootleg subjectivity.

In this presentation I define bootlegging, a set of activities involved in providing for rock music fans recordings unavailable in the consumer market circumscribed by the recording industries: they produce recordings, in concrete material forms (of CDs and DVDs and others) of concerts and outtakes unauthorized neither by artists nor music companies.

Many music consumers have been supporting these bootleg recordings since their appearances of bootleg LPs in early seventies; a certain area of Tokyo is now known as the center of pilgrimage for not only music lovers but also musicians whose music have been bootlegged.

By examining results from my interviews, in Japan, with producers, retailers, and buyers of these recordings as they talk about this somewhat “illicit” form of musical enjoyment, I demonstrate how this marginalized subjectivity has grown out of the same affection for music that has fueled an expansion of the consumer market. Bootleg subjectivity is a case of unruly globalization because it is born out of global expansion of music industries: the more the music industries try to control it, the more it thrives by articulating local contingencies.

Panel P142
Common themes and varied approaches: globalization, migration and popular arts (AAA/JASCA joint panel)