News

Political subtext in manga comics


16 August 2012

Ikeda Riyoko's Berusayu no bara (The Rose of Versailles, 1972-3) focuses on the military career and personal struggle of Oscar, a cross-dressing woman during the French Revolution.
Ikeda Riyoko's Berusayu no bara (The Rose of Versailles, 1972-3) focuses on the military career and personal struggle of Oscar, a cross-dressing woman during the French Revolution.

An international symposium at the University of Sydney will explore the comic world of Japanese manga as a medium for political expression.

Scholars from around the world will examine Japanese history through the manga lens in the forum 'Rewriting History in Manga: A New Medium for Debate', on Friday 17 August.

Participating in the symposium will be Dr Nissim Otmazgin from the Department of East Asian Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem who is one of the organisers, along with Dr Lionel Babicz and Dr Rebecca Suter from the University of Sydney.

"This symposium brings to the University of Sydney speakers from East Asia, the Middle East, the United States, Europe, and Australia to discuss the function of manga as a medium for political debate, with particular focus on its representation of history," says Dr Suter, from the Department of Japanese Studies.

Manga are story-long Japanese comics that have received international popularity having been translated into many languages and achieving cult status. The stories are fantastical in nature and encompass a variety of genres and themes, and are aimed at a readership of all ages.

Tezuka Osamu's Adolf ni tsugu (Adolf, 1983-85), tells the tale of two men named Adolf, a Japanese-German and a Japanese-Israeli, from the Second World War to the 1980s.
Tezuka Osamu's Adolf ni tsugu (Adolf, 1983-85), tells the tale of two men named Adolf, a Japanese-German and a Japanese-Israeli, from the Second World War to the 1980s.

Manga is generally looked upon as pure entertainment but following the success of Japan's popular culture abroad since the mid-1980s, and its enthusiastic acceptance throughout Asia, the Japanese government has become increasingly interested in its economic advantages, as well as its diplomatic advantages of boosting the country's image outside its borders.

Papers to be presented at the symposium will be on questions of nationalism, ethnicity, gender equality, and economic and social transformations.


The event is sponsored by the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sydney and the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund.


Event details

What: Rewriting History in Manga: A New Medium for Debate? 

When: Friday 17 August

Where: History Room S223, the Quadrangle, Camperdown Campus


Program schedule: 
9.30-9.50amOpening remarks
9.50-11.20amPanel 1: Manga and revisionism
11.30-12.30pmPanel 2: Manga and the Pacific War
1.30-2.30pmPanel 3: Manga, Politics, and Satire
2.45-4.15pmPanel 4: Rewriting Genre and Gender
4.30-5.30pmPanel 5: Fantahistory, cross-dressing, an Occidentalism
5.30-6.30pmPanel 6: Concluding Panel


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