Affect, Emotion, and Intimacy in the Media 

I am interested in the connections between affect, emotion, and intimacy, particularly as they manifest in the media. One thread of inquiry is, for instance, to employ theories of affect and emotion heavily influenced by Sara Ahmed and Lauren Berlant to examine media texts, including film and television. 

Publications in this area are:

Ho, Michelle H. S. 2020. “Affect: Nishihara Satsuki” in Japanese Media and Popular Culture: An Open-Access Digital Initiative of the University of Tokyo, edited by Jason G. Karlin, Patrick W. Galbraith, and Shunsuke Nozawa. https://jmpc-utokyo.com/keyword/affect/

Ho, Michelle H. S. 2018. “Housewives Watching Crime: Mediating Social Identity and Voyeuristic Pleasures in Japanese Wide Shows,” in Routledge Handbook of Japanese Media, edited by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, 213-227. New York: Routledge.

Ho, Michelle H. S. 2017. “Consuming Women in Blackface: Racialized Affect and Transnational Femininity in  Japanese Advertising,” in Japanese Studies 37(1): 49-69.
(The advertisements I have used but were refused print permissions can be downloaded here)

Ho, Michelle H. S. 2015. “Desiring the Singapore Story: Affective Attachments and National Identities in Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo,” in Journal of Chinese Cinemas 9(2): 173-186.


Another thread of inquiry is to trace digital intimacies among human beings, such as on social media, as well as human-non-human intimacies, such as between humans and robots, virtual assistants, and virtual characters.

Gender, Intimacy, and Emerging Digital Technologies in Contemporary Japan (GIED)

Since 2019, I have been collaborating with Dr. Hiromi Tanaka (Meiji University) in a project called “Gender, Intimacy, and Emerging Digital Technologies in Contemporary Japan (GIED).” Our project explores how humans interact with technologies like robots, virtual assistants, and virtual characters through a focus on gender, sexuality, and digital intimacies.

Ongoing talks and presentations on this are:

Ho, Michelle H. S. and Hiromi Tanaka. 2023. “Azuma Hikari, My Healing Bride: Tracing Gender and Human-Machine Intimacies in Contemporary Japan.” International Communication Association Annual Conference, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, May 25-29. (Remote)

Tanaka, Hiromi and Michelle H. S. Ho. 2022. “Romancing AI: Gender and New Digital Intimacies in Contemporary Japan.” Artificial Intelligence and the Human? Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Science and Fiction Conference, Berlin, Germany, May 11-13. (In person)

Tanaka, Hiromi and Michelle H. S. Ho. 2022. “Digital Intimacy in Human-Machine Relationships: Gendered Representations in Fiction and Beyond.” Narrating Emotional Closeness between Humans and Machines in Japanese (Popular) Culture and Literature Conference, Berlin, Germany, October 14-15. (Virtual) Program