AM Kanngieser

Transversal Geographies

academic publication A micro-history of ‘convivial’ radio in Japan Parallax 2013

This special issue is about affective and micro-political practices within creative forms of making political worlds. By looking toward the less visible moments and processes, by focusing on the relations and social reproductions within our organizational activities, we hope to open up spaces for asking not only how we understand ourselves, but also how we address each other. Oftentimes, when speaking of politics, there is a tendency toward encompassing stories and experiences that come to infer a coherent and smooth narrative. Such narratives obfuscate the mess and uncertainty of political labour. To recognise these more messy and uncertain terrains does not mean to dismiss the role of broader discourse; rather, it means to look at these alongside them, to try and find points of communication that show how more marginal practices can speak to wider conditions and vice versa.
The political practices of micro-radio move between and interconnect these different scales. Micro-radio is a communications and media form that has had relatively little visibility beyond the realms of radio enthusiasts: amateur radio operators, radio art practitioners and some sections of the political left. This is because unlike community radio, free radio or pirate radio, micro-radio has rarely been used for the mass dissemination of information and music. Rather micro-radio, through its minor and localised form, opens up an attention to its more immediate surroundings, to itself as a technology and as an experimentation.
I recently undertook an interview with Japanese micro-radio creator Tetsuo Kogawa. Kogawa was involved in the micro-radio movement in Japan during the early 1980s-1990s. Inspired by the writings of Ivan Illich, his friendship with Felix Guattari and the radio praxes of the Italian Autonomia movement through stations such as Radio Alice, Kogawa sought to organize tactically ‘legal’ networks of micro-radio, later called ‘Mini FM’. His work in this realm anticipated the widely-relayed cellular phone and peer-to-peer information and communications networks.

Kanngieser, A and Kogawa, T 2013 A micro-history of ‘convivial’ radio in Japan. Parallax 19(2): 85-94

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