Michael Hutter [WZB Berlin Social Science Center]: Novelty Spirals in African Megacities
In Neue Medienökonomik (2006), I suggested that the emergence of new information goods, particularly cultural and creative goods, follows a spiral movement: praise and critique by the users in period 1 have an impact in the “arenas of valuation” where creators perform new cultural goods for period 2. Creators then convince producers to turn their skills and scripts into “templates of performance”. Copies of the template are sold to distributing networks, which (and who) deliver them, in a material or immaterial medium, to users who will pay for, praise and critique the novelties of period 2, thus initiating the next round of novelties.
Novelty spirals need a demanding social environment in order to generate convincing and enduring “newness”. They are the places where a self-reproducing sequence of interactions between and among artists, curators, producers, journalists, collectors, tourists and fans are able to generate a continuous, yet singular flow of novelties. “Artworld cities” offer such an environment. Joanna Grabski suggested the concept in her 2017 study of the “creative economy” in Dakar. Her material includes not only artists and producers, as Howard Becker’s 1983 artworld study in Chicago, but also distributors for copies and, above all, users who are able to turn into creators, producers or collectors. Based on my ongoing research, which uses the narrow lens of visual art scenes, I present tentative evidence for novelty spirals in two similar, yet singular African artworlds in megacities, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Lagos.
Michael Lounsbury [University of Alberta]: Frontiers of Cultural Entrepreneurship
Cultural entrepreneurship research has grown dramatically over the past couple of decades. In this talk, I provide a brief overview of cultural entrepreneurship theory based on my 2019 Cambridge University Press primer (co-authored with Mary Ann Glynn) entitled, Cultural Entrepreneurship: A New Agenda for the Study of Entrepreneurial Processes and Possibilities, and discuss some new opportunities for scholarly development. Our approach to cultural entrepreneurship builds upon research on creative industries and the production of culture to develop a general theoretical approach to the study of entrepreneurial processes that emphasizes the constitutive nature of culture as well as how it can be agentically drawn upon to create novel products and organizations. Our book reviews research on the role of entrepreneurial storytelling to legitimize new ventures and lays out a forward looking agenda on the sources of entrepreneurial possibilities in institutional fields. While I am no expert on the creative industries in Africa or Asia, I highlight how developments in those regions and globally, especially with regard to platforms and digitalization, suggest important new research directions. I conclude with a brief discussion of relational methods, leveraging illustrative examples on nanotechnology and video games to suggest fruitful analytical directions.
Alice Lam [Royal Holloway University of London]: Entrepreneurial stories, cultural brokerage and creativity in hybrid space
I have been asked to comment on Michael Lounsbury’s talk on cultural entrepreneurship by drawing on my research on identity, hybridity and creativity. The field of entrepreneurship or cultural entrepreneurship is on the fringe of my area of expertise and so my talk will focus on some general conceptual issues. I would like to cover three key points: a) The role of personal agency and identity construction in entrepreneurial story telling; b) entrepreneurs as socially skilled actors in cultural brokerage; and c) creativity in the ‘third space of hybridity’ between local knowledge nodes and global networks. (See, Lam 2018 ‘Boundary-crossing careers and the ‘third space of hybridity’: Career actors as knowledge brokers between creative arts and academia’, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 50(8): 1716-1741.)
Steven Casper [Henry E. Riggs Professor of Management, Keck Graduate Institute, Claremont]: Perspectives on Cultural Entrepreneurship
Panel 1 – Forms, Formats, and Contents
How do cultural entrepreneurs make use of digital spaces in order to innovate forms and contents of their creative products (music and film) and their own entrepreneurship? How do they achieve a balance between difference and likeness – to fit in and stand out at the same time and be successful in their respective markets?
Ji-Yoon An [University of Tübingen]: Aliens, Mermaids, and Cartoons: Generic Hybridity in Twenty-First Century South Korean Dramas
In the past decade, K-dramas have engaged in varying levels of generic hybridity. This paper takes interest in a cycle of rom-com series that have fused romance with fantasy and the heritage genre. Since the phenomenal hit of My Love from the Star (SBS, 2013-2014), where the male protagonist is an alien, other worldly beings have been the object of love stories, such as: a “webtoon” character in W (MBC, 2016), a mermaid in The Legend of the Blue Sea (SBS, 2016), a “goblin” in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (tvN, 2016), and a Monkey King in A Korean Odyssey (tvN 2017-8). Encompassing some of the most popular shows of the decade, these programmes not only spice up a generic rom-com storyline with fantastical elements, but also simultaneously reinvent and integrate Korean history into their narratives.
On one level, I am interested in how fantasy affect the conventional gender politics of Korean rom-coms. With Korea being one of the only East Asian countries to successfully galvanise the #MeToo movement, gender portrayals are generally considered to be progressing in culture. However, this paper illuminates the complexity of the landscape, arguing generic hybridity to act as the guise under which a return to conservative portrayals is camouflaged. Such gender politics are not only in conversation with “the mythos of patriarchy” seen in the current wave of American superhero films, but also linked to a latent conservativism in today’s Korean youth. With hyper-neoliberal transformations impacting all aspects of Korean society, neoliberalism is more often than not diagnosed as the culprit of many contemporary social issues, including the crisis in youth culture. The paper explores how the patterns detected in this body of television culture relate to the neoliberal changes in today’s Korea.
Yonghoon Lee [Hong Kong University of Science and Technology]: Identity, Networks, and the Road to a Successful Career in the Creative Labor Market
Labor market identity and professional networks have been two important pillars of the understanding of the creative careers advancing outside of organizational boundaries. Despite the fact that identity and networks are closely related, the related fields have been advancing in parallel while engaging in their own debates. In the present paper, the author joins these areas together by arguing that labor market identity—determined by the level of similarity among projects on which creative workers have worked previously—and network structure—determined by the extent to which collaborators have closely worked with each other—are complementary to each other for creative workers to achieve success with novelty-seeking audiences. The author tests this hypothesis by drawing on the careers of songwriters pursuing freelance careers in the Korean popular music (K-Pop) industry. Specifically, the author finds that a focused identity of K-Pop songwriters is associated with a greater likelihood of commercial success only when they have a cohesive network. When they have a sparse network filled with many
structural holes, a focus in their identity decreases the chance of success, suggesting that the match between a diffused identity and a sparse network, or a focused identity and a cohesive network, is integral to creative workers’ success.
Oris Aigbokhaevbolo [Film & music critic, PR & media consultant, Lagos]: Culture, Technology, and Currency in Nollywood and Nigerian Pop Music
Inasmuch as the Nigerian film and music industries have achieved similar levels of recognition, if not acclaim, globally, the route to achieving that has been vastly different. While Nollywood inadvertently overwhelmed with its volume of production and some illegal dissemination even before a significant level of internet penetration across the country, much of Nigeria’s contemporary pop music has relied on the internet and its streaming platforms for distribution.
As a result, Nollywood has a trickier relationship with its most conspicuous internet-inclusion method being the explicit courting of social media stars in productions. By contrast, Nigerian pop has deployed the internet in less “intrusive” ways: shortening the length of songs, contributing and/or promoting slangs popular online, as well as getting performers noticed. These artistic choices have had business implications—or the other way round—in ways that exemplify Nigerian pop music’s interactions relationship with internet-enabled technology. With a focus on entertainment content and its entrepreneurial dimensions, this presentation discusses Nigerian entertainment under the following subheadings:
1. Slang, Scandal, and the Social Media-Inspired Hit: The Davido Example
2. Radio, DSPs, and the Business of Data: Mr Eazi, Omah Lay, and Olamide
3. Naturalised Nigerian Genres
4. Nollywood and the Social Media Blockbuster
Together, these snapshots of analysis showcase a collective insight into the key trends propelling some of the most important products of African cultural entrepreneurship.
Panel 2 – Legal Frameworks
Legal frameworks have to provide for the changing forms of immaterial cultural expression in the context of digitization. In daily practice, cultural production is often more complex than what legal regulations provide. Different legal regulations might be required for the various cultural expressions such as artistic creation and performance, or cultural heritage. The interests of the various stakeholders – performing artists, collecting societies, audiences, local people, government – have to be taken into account and are ever more challenging in the digital context. The panel examines some of these issues from the anthropological, philosophical, and legal perspective and regional experiences in China, Nigeria and South Africa.
Veit Erlmann [University of Texas at Austin]: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions: South Africa’s Copyright Reform
In the aftermath of apartheid South Africa embarked on an ambitious revision of its intellectual property system. I explore the role of copyright in this process and its intersection with the South African music industry, the largest on the African continent. The South African government portrays the reform effort as aligning copyright with the post-apartheid agenda of redistributive justice and as a vital component of the country’s shift toward a post-industrial knowledge economy. But the persistence of racial inequality, obsolete models of social order and creative work, and Euro-modernist justifications of copyright threaten to undermine this project if not cause it to fail altogether. Based on many years of ethnographic fieldwork in sites as varied as royalty collection societies, parliamentary committees, and anti-piracy police operations, I critically examine these structural and conceptual continuities.
Luo Li [Coventry University]: Uncertain Future of Chinese Folk Music in Digitalization
Digital technologies bring huge changes in stimulating music creation, distributing music and enhancing audio-visual experiences of humans. Folk music, embracing ethnic minority groups’ unique culture, is also transformed followed by the revolution of digitalisation. Digitalisation of folk music opens an array of new opportunities to a wider audience, bringing an interactive cultural exchange beyond the geographical boundary. Meanwhile, digital folk music becomes a strong tool to erode traditional culture, derogates, and dilute cultural identity through culture degradation, exploitation, and misappropriation. This presentation analyses the complex mechanisms protecting Chinese folk music in the digital age from an intellectual property perspective. It examines how digital technologies
change the way of transmission, use, and development to Chinese folk music and how China’s legislative protection and judicial practice respond to such changes and the new complications in the folk music area because of digitalisation.
Mary W. Gani [Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria]: Re-thinking Copyright Reversion for Nigerian Popular Music in an Evolving Digital Culture
Afrobeats, which is the catch-all term for popular music from Nigeria and much of West Africa, has enjoyed increasing global attention in the 21st century. Vibrant markets for mobile phone technology and increasing ease in access to the internet have resulted in a gradual shift from the traditional business structures that underpin the production of popular music. Accordingly, many artists are now able to independently produce their music and leverage their social media platforms for distribution and publicity.
Traditional production structures typically feature copyright exploitation contracts between performing artists and record labels, and sometimes feature third- party contracts with marketers and managers. Interestingly, the framework of the Nigerian Copyright Act supports this model, as do copyright laws in many common law systems around the world. However empirical evidence suggests that such traditional structures have stunted the careers of some performing artists, and results in an industry that distributes only about a fifth of its creative potential.
This paper will consider the practicality of re-introducing copyright reversion rules to correct the status-quo. Judging by the fact that such traditional relationships are not likely to totally disappear, the re-introduction of copyright reversion may serve as a useful tool to protect creative activity and foster a vibrant industry in a digital world.
Panel 3 – Archives and Heritage
How do digital archival practices contribute to the re-spatialization of heritage, memories and knowledges? How can cultural entrepreneurs make use of archives
and how do they reflect in their production of cultural goods?
Rebecca Ohene-Asah [Filmmaker / University of Ghana]: Audio-Visual Archiving Dynamics in Ghana
Ghana’s historical audio-visual archives are largely inaccessible. As such, there is a disconnect between current cultural productions and what already exist. On the national level, archived films are mostly stored in sub-standard deplorable conditions, thus most have deteriorated. Where materials are in relatively good conditions, they are mostly found in foreign archives where they are trapped in outdated formats. In the absence of a national archival policy, individual audio- visual cultural producers employ unsustainable methods to safeguard their creatives. This presentation focuses on the audio-visual storage and archival practices of the country Ghana, the relationship with current cinema production and the implication for Ghana’s cinematic heritage.
Ji-hoon Kim [Chung Ang University, Seoul]: The Uses of Found Footage and The ‘Archival Turn’ of Recent Korean Documentary
This paper examines the ways in which several Korean documentary films in the 2010s use archival footage of the distant or recent histories of Korea. It argues that the films testify to what I call the ‘post-vérité’ turn of recent Korean documentaries: an array of experimentations with the forms and aesthetics of documentary, which are distinguished from the vérité style—an activist tradition of Korean independent documentary—but also inherit and renew its commitment to politics and history. As a subcategory of the ‘post-vérité’ turn, I characterize the recent Korean documentary’s increasing uses of found footage as the ‘archival turn’ and argue for its two implications. First, this term suggests that the extensive uses of found footage allow filmmakers to develop other modes of documentary filmmaking—compilation documentary, essay film, and metahistorical documentary—besides the participatory mode distinguished by the supremacy of the camera’s immediate, on-the-spot witnessing of reality. Second, this term indicates that Walter Benjamin’s idea of historiography is shared by the filmmakers, as their appropriation, reassessment, and manipulation of found footage are motivated by the desire to endow it with a new historical perspective in relation to their engagement with the politics of the present.
Hyginus Ekwuazi [University of Ibadan]: Nollywood—the making of a digital dark age
The consciousness that runs through this paper is that a film industry is developed in direct proportion to the extent that the film industry is able to put film production, film distribution, film exhibition and film archiving in a loop. The argument proffered is that Nollywood has not been able to create that loop; and, consequently, that in the absence of digital archival practices, Nollywood is creating a digital dark age. This argument is developed in three sections. The introduction shows how the trajectory of the Nigerian film has great implications for the re-spatialization of heritage, memories and knowledges. The other two sections are organically linked. The one, by arguing that if Nigerian culture were to be wiped out and if a group of aliens were to fish out Nollywood films from the debris, those aliens would be able to reconstruct how we lived, our values and our world view. The other section advances a position that rests on the irony that in Africa, when an old man dies, it is like the burning down of a warehouse of knowledge and culture but when an old film is irretrievably lost, it is of no consequence. Both the National Film Policy and the orientation of the National Film Archive are used to anchor the argument.
Panel 4 – Regional and Transnational Consumption
How do music and film from Nigeria and Korea reach wider audiences in the respective regions, how do they react to them? How do they influence, inspire, or interfere with other local industries? How do digital spaces affect collaborations?
Dal Yong Jin [Simon Fraser University]:Transnational Korean Popular Culture in the Korean Wave Tradition: From K-film’s and K-pop’s Perspectives
In the early 21st century, Korean popular culture, including Korean cinema and K-pop, have continued to expand their global reach. Even during the COVID-19 era, BTS—a seven boy band from Korea—achieved its No.1. on the Billboard Hot 100 with its new songs such as Dynamite and Butter. Korean films, including Parasite and Space Sweepers have become popular in the global cultural markets. During the COVID-19 era, BTS especially introduced a new form of cultural activity, titled ‘Bang Bang Con: The Live,’ on July 14, 2020. This live event was streamed over around 100 minutes remotely from a studio in Seoul, drew some 756,000 viewers from across the world. Fans from 107 countries or regions, including Korea, the U.S., the U.K., China, and Japan, logged in to view the online event. Space Sweepers was very popular on Netflix in 2021. As such, Korea culture’s global popularity continues, and global audiences and researchers together raise questions surrounding transnational flows of hybridized popular cultures in an era of new media technologies. This talk discusses the recent Korean Wave within and as a product of the hybridized transnational cultural flows of content and identity. It also discusses the use of social media and OTT service platform, which is significant. Flows of meaning and affect between Korean popular culture and global audiences are also addressed.
Suk-Young Kim [University of California]: Millennial North Korea: New Media Technology and Living Creatively with Surveillance
North Korea might be known as the world’s most secluded society, but it has witnessed the rapid rise of media technologies in the new millennium. While the North Korean state is anxiously trying to catch up with the world standard of communication technology, it is also faced with the need to block free influx of outside information by allowing only intranet to its people. In a country where smuggling foreign media still can be punished by public execution, how do North Koreans manage to access outside information? This project explores how the expansion of new media technology complicates the country’s seemingly monolithic facade mired in entangled networks of technology and surveillance, intellectual property and copyrights, and the way for millennials to live creatively with censorship and relatively freely under surveillance.
Alessandro Jedlowski [Sciences Po Bordeaux]: Disrupting Pan-Africanism: New Technologies and the Fragmentation of Nigerian Film Circulation Across Africa and the Diaspora
The emergence and tremendous success of Nollywood throughout the 1990s made scholars suggest that a new form of pan-Africanism had emerged, based on the transnational circulation and vernacularization of religious, cultural, aesthetic and linguistic elements coming from Nigerian films. The golden age of Nollywood pan-Africanism can be connected to the era in which films were circulated mainly on VHSs, VCDs and, later, on pan-African satellite channels like Africa Magic. Much of this early success can be connected to the facility of access granted by video as a technology, and to the informal networks of circulation that it allowed to emerge. The technological transformations that recently affected Nollywood production and distribution processes, as well as the increasing involvement of global media companies in the industry have contributed in fragmenting Nollywood distribution networks. New technologies allowed for more rigid control of films’ circulation and permitted the introduction of windowing strategies that Nollywood had never adopted before, making higher quality content accessible only to a restricted, elitist section of the audience. Parallel to this, informal networks of circulation continued to exist, circulating large quantities of lower quality content for less well-off audiences. This paper will argue that the combination of these dynamics has ultimately disrupted the processes of creation of pan-African publics that the emergence of the industry had triggered, and contributed to the emergence of parallel public spheres in Nigeria and at a pan- African level.