THE EVENT AND PARTICIPANTS
On the 12th and 13th of November 2015 twenty international scholars gathered in Rotterdam to present their work on European Fan Cultures. The aim of the conference was to present the researchers’ work in progress, and to exchange experiences and challenges of researching fandoms in a European context. ERMeCC managing director Dr. Erik Hitters opened the conference and highlighted how media consumption and cultural identity, two themes that relate closely to researching fans, play an important role in the work conducted at ERMeCC.
Over the course of the two days, the twenty participants presented their studies in eight sessions. The background of the attendees was very diverse: They represented universities from Spain (2), the United Kingdom (5), Thailand (1), Ireland (1), Denmark (1), Russia (1), Germany (4), Switzerland (1), the Netherlands (3), and Italy (1).
This diversity of countries and languages also resonated in their presentation topics. Presentations covered for example topics on local or national levels, e.g. Irish soccer fandom; the reception of Game of Thrones and Mad Men among Italian viewers of the shows; Swiss tribute bands and their fans; Russian Harry Potter fan fiction; Spanish teenage fandoms; Dutch folk music fandom; and elderly female wrestling fans in the United Kingdom. Other topics covered looked at a ‘European’, or transnational, level, such as a presentation on the fans of the Eurovision song contest, the European fandom of the TV-series RuPaul’s Drag Race, or yaoi manga’s appeal on a transcultural level.
The common theme the presentations shared was that fandom offers a feeling of belonging that goes beyond borders. This was also the central argument in professor Cornel Sandvoss (University of Huddersfield, UK) on ’The Value of Belonging: Fans, Place and Postnationalism in Europe’. In his keynote, he focused on discussing ‘belonging’ in relation to the migration crisis, and argued that fandom teaches us to form relations across countries, which could be a lesson for the ‘real’ world.
Yet, this belonging was also what made doing research on European fan cultures so difficult. The challenges of doing research on local or global level were discussed in the ‘expert session’. In this session Dr. Tonny Krijnen (Erasmus University Rotterdam, NL) shared the difficulties of doing research on a global scale by discussing her involvement in the World Hobbit project (an international team of scholars researching the Hobbit franchise). Dr. Aine Mangaoang and Dr. John O’Flynn (Dublin City University, Ireland) talked about their approach to research popular music in Dublin (for their Mapping Popular Music in Dublin project). These two sessions then opened up an inspiring discussion on various methodologies used to study in diverse local, national or transcultural contexts.
However, even in these examples, the theme of ‘home’ was present again. As professor Stijn Reijnders mentioned in his closing remarks, “fandom makes us feel at home in a global world”. Henceforth, the conference helped us and offered us inspiration – by taking this particular focus on the multiplicity of Europe – to better understand the diverse world we are living in. p>
All photos of the event were posted on our Facebook page. To be found here. The photos were taken by our student volunteer Viki Rusyn.
Some photos of the event, taken by Viki Rusyn.