Ian Condry | People

Ian Condry

Affiliate Faculty

Professor of Japanese Culture and Media Studies

Room 14N-423




Ian Condry is a Cultural Anthropologist and Professor in Comparative Media Studies/Writing with an affiliated appointment in Anthropology.

He is the author of two books, founder of the MIT Spatial Sound Lab, radio DJ on WMBR, co-founder of the startup Hearby.com.  He releases music as Leftroman.  His books are available for free under Creative Commons license. 

In the fall of 2019, he launched the MIIT Spatial Sound Lab, a community production studio for immersive, multiperspective, sonic experimentation.  We aim to disrupt hierarchies, reduce inequalities, and cross borders.  He is co-organizer of Dissolve Music, a sound conference and music festival, in 2018 and 2020 (mitdissolve.com).

Hearby.com is a local live music discovery platform which uses AI and Anthropology to provide new pathways to finding artists, playing locally, who you didn’t know you would like.  

His first book Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization (2006, Duke University Press), explores ethnographically how hip-hop took root and developed in Japan, with a focus on Japanese musicians and their fans.  Based on fieldwork in Tokyo nightclubs and recording studios, he finds that "globalization from below” is the best explanation for cultural movements that spread transnationally before there is interest from corporations and governments.

In his second book, The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story, he argues that the global success of Japanese animation arises from "collaborative creativity" between official producers and fan remixers, between industries of manga, merchandise, and more, and so offers a model for understanding how media and culture are changing in the twenty-first century. 

Since 2018, he is the radio DJ for Near and Far, a Japanese hip-hop show, on WMBR 88.1FM, Cambridge, and online at wmbr.org, every week Tuesdays, 7-8pm (Eastern US).  Archive at mixcloud.com/iancondry.

Since 2006, he organized the MIT/Harvard Cool Japan research project, which explores the critical potential of of popular culture.
He is currently working on a book about musicians after the end of the recording industry, at the frontiers of music and sound, in Tokyo, Boston and Berlin.

He received his BA from Harvard in Government in 1987 and a PhD in Anthropology from Yale in 1999. He has been teaching at MIT since 2002.  He is former Head of Global Studies and Languages and he serves on the Executive Committee of the Technology Broadcasting Corporation.

Publications|Selected Publications

2011 "Post-3/11 Japan and the Radical Recontextualization of Value: Music, Social Media, and End-Around Strategies for Cultural Action," International Journal of Japanese Sociology, 20(1), November 2011, pp. 3-13
2011 "Love Revolution: Anime, Masculinity, and the Future," in Recreating Japanese Men, Sabine Fruhstuck and Anne Walthall, eds., Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 262-283
2011 "Japanese Popular Music," in The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society, Theodore Bestor and Victoria Bestor, eds., London: Routledge, pp. 238-260
2010 "Dark Energy: What Fansubs Reveal About the Copyright Wars," Mechademia 5: Fanthropologies, p. 193-209. Published simultaneously in Japanese in Hitotsubashi Business Review, 58(3): 52-66, special issue on Cool Japan
2009 "Anime Creativity: Transnational Samurai and the Quest for Cool Japan," Theory, Culture and Society, 26(2-3), May 2009, pp. 25
2007 "Youth, Intimacy, and Blood: Media and Nationalism in Contemporary Japan," Japan Focus, http://japanfocus.org/-Ian-Condry/2403, March 2007
2007 "Yellow B-Boys and Black Culture: Towards Transnational Cultural Politics of Race through Japanese Hip-Hop," Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, 15(3): 637-671
2004 "Cultures of Music Piracy: An Ethnographic Comparison of the US and Japan," International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(3): 343-363. Reprinted in Popular Music, Vol. 4: Cultures and Subcultures, Chris Rojek, ed., August 2011, SAGE Benchmarks in Culture and Society series, London: SAGE


21A.505J / STS.065J
Anthropology of Sound

Anime: Transnational Media and Culture

Intro to Media Studies

Theory and Methods in Media Studies II

Gender and Japanese Popular Culture


2017 JMellon Faculty Grant, Center for Art, Science, Technology for “Dissolve Music @ MIT”
2010 Japan Foundation Grant, "Uses of Social Media: A Japan-US Comparison"
2006 National Science Foundation, Cultural Anthropology Research Grant for "Global Anime"
2006 Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Grant for "Global Anime"
2006-2007 Program on US-Japan Relations, Advanced Research Fellowship, Harvard



Personal Website

Cool Japan