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In this second installment, the participants engage in back and forth conversation intended to extend upon the ideas contained in their opening statements.

Louisa Stein: Anne and Sam, I'm struck by the harmony in our three separately written pieces. We all seem to recognize the perceived dangers or negative connotations of the term acafan, and yet feel a value in holding on to the term because of its potential as a self-reflexive signpost, a bridge between interconnected disciplines or subject positions, and even perhaps a politicized position.
One question I have is from where this perception emerges that acafan is an essentialized standpoint or identity connected to identity politics? All of our three responses here indicate that that none of us relate to the term acafan in this way, though we are all wary of these associations. Why and where does this negative perception of acafan as a divisive concept take root and how can we counter this narrative? Or is this perception an unavoidable part of the project of acafan work?

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This is the first installment of our summer-long discussion of "Acafandom and Beyond." Many readers ask me what "Acafan" means in the title of this blog. This conversation will be a chance to dig deeper into this concept and explore its relationship to more general concerns of the place of subjectivity and self-reflexivity in cultural critique. In the first segment of each week, we will be reading opening statements from the three invited participants.

Anne Kustritz:

My interest in aca-fan identity derives from two main concerns. First, I envision the aca-fan construct as the demarcation of a site of cultural and political struggle and an opportunity for solidarity; yet it often seems to be represented as a coherent or even essentialized standpoint or identity (and identity politics). Secondly, the issues I imagine as most central to theorization of aca-fan identity have also been elucidated significantly in the works of post-structuralist, post-modern, feminist, queer, post-colonial, and native ethnography/ethnology, and those conversations would significantly enrich our dialogue. read more )

Louisa Stein:

This August I will be going to my first fan convention. It's a very specific fan con, not one that is focused on any particular series, but rather a con that brings together practitioners and appreciators of the practice of fan remix video known as vidding. The con is called Vividcon, and for three days fans and vidders gather to screen vids, discuss vids, assess vids, critique vids, and dance to vids. Vividcon represents a turning point for me, as does the writing of this piece. I have always found negotiating my fan and academic personae to be a fraught process. read more )

Sam Ford:

Over the past few years, the term "acafan" has been picked up for a variety of uses. For academics, it's been a way to discuss a particular type of fan studies. By that, I mean pieces more qualitative in nature, more informed by in-depth knowledge of a particular fan culture because it's been written by someone who is a member of that community, and which often use an inductive sort of logic, focusing on the rich details of a particular fan community and then looking at what that case might tell us about fan practices at large. read more )

Participant bios )
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Coming Soon: Acafandom and Beyond

In the summer of 2007, this blog hosted a rich series of exchanges concerning "gender and fan studies," which paired male and female researchers together to reflect on the impact that gender had on their work. We are still feeling the impact of these exchanges in terms of new collaborations between researchers and new paradigms for approaching our shared interests.

This summer, the blog is going to host another large scale conversation, this time focused on the concept of the Acafan and the kinds of work this term has done for helping us to sort through our complex emotional and intellectual relationships to our object of study and the equally complicated relationship between our professional lives as fans and who we are in our personal lives.

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