Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Emanuela Guano

Second Advisor

Cassandra White

Third Advisor

Faidra Papavasiliou


Cosplay is a portmanteau of costume and play, referring specifically to role-play. Cosplay consists of various costumed role-playing, such as anime, manga, video games, science-fiction, fantasy, horror, mythology, etc. In the 1990s, cosplay emerged as a popular street fashion subculture in Japan that has become a worldwide phenomenon. Cosplay was already present in North American popular culture in association with comic and science-fiction conventions. These events at the time were considered masquerades, not cosplay. Cosplay communities rely primarily on maintaining social relationships via internet communication and word of mouth. The standards for what constitutes cosplay are upheld by individuals, the community, and organizations. These organizations are made of security personnel, cosplay contest judges, local police, and convention staff. Through this ethnography on cosplayers, I will identify the hidden power structures, agency, and resistance or replication of hegemony in the community; by using a combination of interviews, participant observation, and auto-ethnography.