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Dario Lolli (Film and Screen Media)

Dispositives of Extension: Licensing and Franchising Japanese Media in the Italian Mediascape and Beyond.

The transnational success of Japanese transmedia series based on anime, manga and video games has been often analysed through the use of pre-given explicative principles, such as the formal analysis of their contents or the conglomerated environment of their production and distribution. These approaches, however, have often been unable to account for the material, affective and generative processes of circulation investing Japanese media as they move across constantly changing transnational arrangements and delivery platforms. This thesis borrows the Foucauldian concept of dispositif to provide an anti-essentialist investigation of Japanese transmedia series as they open up to transnational audiences, distribution channels and pathways of collaboration. Dispositives of extension are historically contingent assemblages of distributive social practices emerging from and within transnational circulation – including popular adaptations, unauthorised appropriations or professional brand extensions through the growing industry of licensing.

Through original case studies from the Italian and European circulation of Japanese media franchises, this thesis reframes conventional histories of Japanese media transnationalism, analysing the emergence of more or less formalised infrastructures for the transnational trade of Japanese intellectual properties and the extension of their outreach across media, commodities and territories. What emerges from this investigation is a history of Japanese media crisscrossing and shaping increasingly institutionalised practices of transnational franchising and licensing able to capture value from generic affects and information produced in the social. By opening up a multidisciplinary dialogue between media studies and critical social theory, Dispositives of Extension highlights the material aspect of globally circulating Japanese media, demonstrating how the cultural meanings of these objects cannot be severed from contingent analyses of social and economic valorisation emerging from and within the multiple dispositives of their transnational extension.

Supervisors: Dr Scott Rodgers and Dr Griseldis Kirsch (SOAS).