Marc Steinberg - Associate Professor of Film Studies, Concordia University
Convenience stores or the konbini are central fixtures of the landscape of both urban and rural Japan. They have also tended to be overlooked in analyses of Japanese cultural production and circulation. With the recent publication of Murata Sayaka’s Akutagawa Prize-winning novel Convenience Store Woman, and manga and anime series such as Mr. Nietzsche in the Convenience Store and Convenience Store Boyfriends, this ubiquitous part of daily life in Japan has gained some visibility. And yet, while these texts offer us sites from which to consider the convenience store’s impact on everyday life, this talk argues that we should also pay more attention to the convenience store as a central logistical node in the circulation of books, magazines, and other types of media. This requires looking at “convenience store media,” items which in some cases exclusively circulate through convenience stores and their unique logistical networks. This talk will hence foreground the convenience store as a hub for media and cultural life in Japan. It also suggests the konbini is a place from which to consider the rise of the logic of “convenience” as a preeminent characteristic of capitalism today – both inside Japan and outside it.
Marc Steinberg is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University, Montreal, and director of The Platform Lab. He is the author of the award-winning books Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) and its expanded Japanese translation Why is Japan a “Media Mixing Nation”? (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 2015), which historically situate the practices of media franchising or the media mix. His second monograph, The Platform Economy: How Japan Transformed the Commercial Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), tracks the platform-led transformation of film, media, and Internet cultures. Offering a comparative study of platforms with a focus on Japan as the key site for global platformization, the book systematically examines the managerial, medial, and social impacts of platform theory and practice. He is the co-editor (with Alexander Zahlten) of Media Theory in Japan (Duke University Press, 2017), which traces the politics and parameters of media theorization in the Japanese context, as well as a special issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia on “Regional Platforms.” He is currently at work on a co-written book on media and management, an edited collection on animation studios, and a project on the joint logics of just-in-time production and the culture of convenience.