K-popscape : gender fluidity and racial hybridity in transnational Korean pop dance
Analyzing bodily representation and audience reception, my dissertation examines (a) how racial hybridity and gender fluidity in Korean pop (K-pop) music performances challenge racialized gender norms in the West, such as feminine/masculine, white/black, heterosexual/homosexual, and colonial mimicry/contemporary minstrelsy, and (b) how colonial history influences East Asian and Western audiences’ different understandings of cultural appropriation and engenders intercultural (mis) communication on a global stage. Drawing on theories from theatre, dance, and performance studies, gender studies, critical race studies, media studies, and Asian studies, I offer close readings of dancers’ bodies, movements, and choreographies as well as audiovisual contents in select K-pop music videos. I also analyze audience reception from media coverage to global fans’ online comments around the world to see both local and global implications of K-pop. In their videos, K-pop performers move between enacting and negating whiteness, blackness, Asianness, and Koreanness with their fluid gender representations. I argue that these complex, intersectional, and often contradictory stagings, which I call K-popscape, are unreadable in the West due to the pervasiveness (and limitations) of stereotypes about Asian Americans.