GREGAL‘s activities correspond to the following lines of research:

Cultural Production and Consumption: (re)production, distribution and consumption of the Japanese and South Korean cultural and creative industries in Spain, as forms of representation associated with the production and circulation of global cultural meanings.

Politics and Representation: cultural diplomacy, soft power and strategic uses of Japanese and South Korean popular culture in Spain, and its political, economic and social effects.

Language and community: linguistic and cultural articulation in the social spheres related to the Japanese and Korean languages in Spain, especially in the labur and the education markets in a global context of expanded mobility.

Cultural Production and Consumption: Cultural and creative industries

In recent decades, Japan and later Korea have become cultural powers. The productions of Korean dramas, Japanese anime and manga, j-pop and k-pop, fantasy and genre cinema, have established themselves in the circuits of popular culture on a planetary scale, acting as transformative agents of the social landscape. In the global expansion and boom experienced by the Japanese and Korean cultural industries, Catalonia has been a first class node, with events that have become international references, such as the Barcelona Manga Con, the Sitges Fantasy Film Festival, and a multitude of regular events, as demonstrated by the regular programming of Casa Asia, Casa Nippon, the Japan Weekend, cosplay activities- , the Matsuri Festival of Barcelona, etc. The social interest these events generate has penetrated other productive and creative sectors of the country (publishers, audiovisual producers, video game development, design, fashion and cosmetic agencies, tourism and restoration, among others) and has given rise to new consumer practices, aesthetic forms and expressions of identity. Although the process has accelerated in recent years, an upward progression can be identified in terms of the impact of Japanese and Korean cultural products (from the Japanese animated series published in the 1970s to Korean dramas on Netflix today), which affects successive generations.

Strategic objectives:

  • To identify Korean and Japanese franchises related to cultural consumption with a broad impact in Catalonia and describe pre-existing strategies or factors that have facilitated their popular acceptance.
  • To investigate the networks or industries that sell or distribute these products in their various distribution markets (local, national, state, suprastate, global).
  • To study creative interactions and reworking and appropriation mechanisms, as well as consumer groups and the relationships they establish with others in the Spanish State and the rest of the world.
  • To analyze the effects of cultural and creative industries on the emergence of new business models in different sectors of the productive economy.
  • To explore grassroots initiatives that mobilise cultural resources, representative discourses and how tastes develop regarding the social perception of Korea and Japan.

Politics and Representation: Cultural diplomacy and soft power

Cultural industries constitute a fertile ground for operations in cultural diplomacy and soft power policies. A decade after its formulation by Joseph Nye (1991), the concept of soft power found a paradigmatic expression in the Japanese government’s international policy, closely linked to the boom in Japanese popular culture in the world. For its part, as a strategy for the recovery of the Asian crisis of ’97, the Korean government initiated a policy of promoting its cultural production abroad. These initiatives have allowed both countries to consolidate internationally as suppliers of cultural productions, in the shadow of the US giant. Alongside the international presence of Japanese cultural products and, in particular, their popular culture, traditional channels of cultural diplomacy have intensified, with recent examples, such as: the celebration of the Spain-Japan Dual Year (2013-2014), the establishment of the Japan Foundation (Japan Foundation, Government of Japan) in Spain in the early 2000s, the launch of the Japan Plan in Catalonia ( 2012-2015/2016-2019), the launch of the Korean Cultural Centre in Madrid (2011), the celebration of the start of modern diplomatic relations between Japan and Spain (2017-2018) and the inauguration of the King Sejong Institute (Government of South Korea) in Catalonia based at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Strategic objectives:

  • To analyse cultural diplomacy activities and agreements in the Japanese and Korean institutions in Spain (Japan Foundation, King Sejong Institute, Korean Cultural Centre, consulates and embassies).
  • To investigate the role of private and state actors in generating soft power through cultural dissemination (actions to promote Cool Japan and Hallyu).
  • To study the formulation and development of initiatives and national brand campaigns, both in the cases of Japan and Korea and in Catalonia (Catalonia Brand), its economic, political and social effects (exports, cultural heritage, tourism, gastronomy) and feedback with other brands (Spain or Barcelona Brands).
  • To contribute to the theoretical debate on the role of cultural promotion strategies in international public diplomacy and the world economy.

Language and community: Globally expanded mobility

Since the late 1980s, despite geographical distance and cultural differences, the number of people studying Japanese and, today, Korean, has increased exponentially in Catalonia. Two simultaneous processes have affected this uninterrupted growth: on the one hand, the boom in Japanese and Korean cultural industries; on the other hand, the internationalisation of companies in these countries, which has led to the opening of headquarters or factories abroad. The fact that Catalonia has benefited from most of the investments in the Spanish State made by Korean and Japanese companies in the automotive, technology, communications and consumer electronics sectors has given rise to new professional opportunities. As a result of these two processes, there has been also been an increase in educational opportunities, organised around the teaching of East Asian languages, which has gradually led to the promotion of cultural contacts and mobility between Catalonia, Korea and Japan.

Strategic objectives:

  • To analyse the presence and articulation of Japanese and Korean languages in different mobility processes and communicative contexts in relation to the field of work and the global education market.
  • To study the Japanese and Korean language education market (unofficial, official, higher) from a broad perspective, including: learning models, interests and motivation, teachers and students.
  • To investigate translation models and communities of students and speakers in the cultural offer, especially in bilingualism, multilingualism, intergenerational language transmission and new speakers.
  • To promote research on Japanese and Korean residents in Catalonia by paying special attention to their social, economic and productive communities.