This is a joint seminar together with the Media cluster.

Crystal Abidin, PhD Candidate, Anthropology & Sociology, Communications & Media Studies, University of Western Australia & Visiting Doctoral Fellow, Media Management and Transformation Center, Jönköping University

(En)gendering cuteness and pastiching East Asia: Singaporean web cute as The Doll, The Darling and The Dear

There has yet to be a definitive study of cute culture that is organically Singaporean. Drawing on existing work on East Asian cute culture and the regional popularity of commercial social media microcelebrities in Singapore, this presentation annotates three modes of agentic cute used to obscure the soft power that microcelebrity bloggers hold. Through the qualitative textual and visual analysis of content from three popular Singaporean commercial lifestyle blogs and their associated Instagram and Twitter feeds I examine how The Doll, The Darling, and The Dear are enacted as ‘cute femininities’. I argue that the subversive power of this performative cute is obscured by the corresponding sensual delight, romantic docility, and homosocial desire that the bloggers develop in tandem with their cute. By continually emphasizing stereotypical gendered relations with their male partners, and fan relations with their readers, these bloggers are able to position themselves as non­threatening and submissive, when they are in fact quietly subverting these hierarchies for personal gain.

All seminars in the series.