Consumption, Performance and Identity in Cosplay

The identity politics and moral economy of cosplay and fan culture.

The Geek Anthropologist

By Emma Louise Backe

Featured Image by Secret Identity Cosplay and Buzzfeed. Other images included in the article were taken by the author.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of fans congregate at conventions like San Diego’s Comic Con, Atlanta’s Dragon Con and Emerald City Comic Con, to name a few. Cities play host to a variety of visitors and spectators who coalesce around their mutual appreciation and celebration of certain forms of media: manga, anime, science fiction, fantasy, comic books, video games, zombie narratives. Some of these fans extend their devotion to a series or character through cosplay, a word speculated to originate from the combination of costumes and play (Winge 2006, Plunkett 2014). The history of cosplay itself is contested. In a recent article in Racked, Culp (2016) contends that Myrtle Douglas and her then-time partner Forrest J. Ackerman initiated the cosplay sub-culture in North America in…

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