Cross-Cultural Seminar: Brian Moeran

Brian Moeran, Copenhagen Business School, will present a paper on "Japanese Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in Japan".


Books are both cultural products and commodities. As such they do not differ from other creative industry and mass media productions like advertising, art, fashion, film, music, newspapers, magazines, radio, and television programmes. As cultural products, books may be said to circulate in a cultural economy of collective meanings. They communicate knowledge and ideas, while simultaneously portraying a society's culture. As commodities, books are products of the publishing and print industries. Like other media forms, they are deeply immersed in capitalist production and consumption at national and global levels.
  This paper is based on on-going ethnographic research and delineates the field of the publishing business in Japan. It argues that the field is characterized by a tripartite structure, consisting of what in Japanese are known as ‘production' (or maker, i.e. publishers), ‘distribution' (ryūtsū, i.e. wholesalers) and ‘retail' (kouri, i.e. bookstores). Each of these to some extent colludes, cooperates and enters into conflicts with the others - as one has learned to expect from the analyses by Pierre Bourdieu and others of different fields of cultural production. At the same time, however, the field of Japanese publishing exhibits certain characteristics not found in the field of publishing in the United Kingdom, and the paper attempts to explain why such differences exist and what their long-term results may be.

Cross-Cultural Seminars at ToRS

Every semester, six invited speakers will present a scholarly paper for academic staff and graduate students at ToRS (and other invited guests). The papers will be based on material from one of the regions covered by ToRS, but will - thematically or theoretically - also have a strong cross-cultural appeal. The aim is to encourage interest across disciplines at ToRS - and thereby strengthen scholarly discussion and cooperation - and to give us all a chance to get acquainted with scholars from outside the department.

Each presentation will last 45 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of discussion chaired by a person from ToRS. The seminars will take place every second Thursday from 15.15pm to 16.30pm in room U6. After each seminar, we will go for drinks and possibly dinner with the speaker. All participants are invited for this, but expenses will have to be covered by participants themselves.

Organizers: Andreas Bandak, Mikkel Bille and Lars Højer

September 29

Brian Moeran (Copenhagen Business School)
Japanese Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in Japan

October 13

Ayo Wahlberg (University of Copenhagen)
Banking viability - reproduction and the sperm crisis in China

November 10

Nils Bubandt (Aarhus University)
Sacred Money. Faith and Finance in a Global Sufi Order

November 24

Dietrich Jung (University of Southern Denmark)
Max Weber and Sheikh Ahmad ibn Zayni al-Dahlan: Shaping modern knowledge on Islam

December 8

Michel Hockx (School of Oriental and African Studies, London)
Postsocialist Publishing: Internet Literature in China