Multilingual publics: Fansubbing global TV

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This paper focuses on the language politics of global media, examining publics that arise through experiences of film and television in translation. Through an awareness of screen translation processes and strategies-from dubbing and subtitling to fansubbing and live interpretation-new publics arise. Globally, such publics count, accounting for a major proportion of audiences worldwide. Hence, I argue that screen translation and experiences of translated media can no longer be positioned as peripheral to either screen culture as a whole, or to its analysis. Moreover, as screen media evolves in conjunction with new technologies, trends indicate it is becoming increasingly multilingual, as Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic, for instance, challenge the traditional dominance of English as a global lingua franca. To explore such changes and the key role played by translation in delimiting the accessibility of cultural products in global or transnational contexts, this paper identifies online fansubbing as an area of particular interest. Fansubbing is a growing DIY phenomenon where avid fans of foreign-language media produce their own amateur subtitles. Usually, they contravene copyright laws in order to do so, making their subs freely available to others through a range of digital and online tools. Originating within anime subculture, fansubbing is fast becoming a paradigmatic mode of media consumption, seeping well beyond the borders of anime and becoming a favoured strategy of political activists and corporate giants alike. Reflecting the growing importance of translation as a participatory mode within global media circuits, fansubbing signals the need to take seriously operations of subtitling and dubbing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Publics
Subtitle of host publicationShifting Boundaries in New Media, Technology and Culture
EditorsP. David Marshall, Glenn D'Cruz, Sharyn McDonald, Katja Lee
Place of PublicationLondon UK
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781137533241
ISBN (Print)9781137533234
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Fansubbing
  • translation
  • Multilingualism
  • television studies
  • globalisation
  • fan studies
  • Fan translation

Cite this

Dwyer, T. (2016). Multilingual publics: Fansubbing global TV. In P. D. Marshall, G. D'Cruz, S. McDonald, & K. Lee (Eds.), Contemporary Publics: Shifting Boundaries in New Media, Technology and Culture (1st ed., pp. 145-162). Palgrave Macmillan.