Transnationality or Globality? The Korean Wave and Methodological Challenges in Media and Cultural studies



Making the case for a new media/cultural studies that takes a transregional, transcultural and transdisciplinary approach, this contribution notes how the global popularity of Korean Wave has highlighted the limitations of methods rooted in notions of national identities. Studies have challenged western hegemony of knowledge production and are suggestive of new academic communities beyond Eurocentric nation states that may be both multinational and multicultural.

This contribution however warns that a focus on de-westernising theory restores the singularity of the West. A more systematic framework is wanted. The Korean Wave’s global reception has hinted at a polymorphous globality of urban (mainly youth) culture emerging in metropolitan areas parallel to Korea’s ­Gangnam. In addition a transdisciplinary approach to media studies may ­reinvigorate the idea (from McCluhan) that the medium shapes culture, with the possibility: the medium becomes the methodology. Digital humanities suggest a new way of ­thinking about media practice/methodology that could overcome natural and human sciences ­binaries.

The opportunity is consequently to be the first discipline of a new field in the age of crisis, rather than the remnants of an old one shivering in the face of a global academic ‘winter’. 

Keywords: globality, transdisciplines, metropolitan culture, transnationalism, de-westernizing, Korean Wave

How to Cite: Kang, J. (2017) “Transnationality or Globality? The Korean Wave and Methodological Challenges in Media and Cultural studies”, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 12(1). doi:

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Author Information

Dr Jaeho Kang is Senior Lecturer in Critical Media and Cultural Studies at SOAS London and previously taught as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Film Studies at the New School in New York (2005–2012) after holding the post of Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow in the Institut für Sozialforschung at the University of Frankfurt (2004–2005). The author of Walter Benjamin and the Media: The Spectacle of Modernity (2013), his research has recently focused attention on the East Asian context of media culture with particular reference to media spectacle, urban space and screen culture.