What is counterculture in the context of this kind of anthropological, descriptive analysis, in relation to conceptions of culture? I hope to characterize counterculture through the following ethnographic analysis of Harbin.
What is counterculture in the context of this kind of descriptive analysis, in relation to anthropological conceptions of culture, involves a kind of creative response of people in the 1960s to modernity, my second line of analysis. Counterculture here informs a concept of virtually human in the sense of acting out of alternative roles or identities, both actually and virtually, in response to modernity (e.g. Burning Man, in-world and on the ground, too). And rather than defining and reifying counterculture, I'll begin to characterize counterculture through the following ethnographic analysis of Harbin. (But briefly, counterculture is a progressive de-reification or de-thingification of culture, with aspects of protest, resistance and reversal vis-a-vis cultural processes shaped by modernity). Here, counterculture – more and less of the freedom-seeking movements of the 1960s now still trickling 40 years later - emerges as very diverse, creative responses to modernity. Avatars - the virtually human – in virtual Harbin are further, freeing instantiations – now digitally mediated – of the freeing experiences, especially in the Harbin pools, of being at actual Harbin. So, to engage the meaning of virtual as “almost,” vis-a-vis Boellstorff (2007:5), I'd like to suggest that modernity throws off the balance of humanity, and that both actual Harbin and virtual Harbin make it possible to consider anew, and reconfigure the 'virtual' through place-making, subjectivity and community. Anthropology as “a positive and definite study of the human knowledge of the human (Wagner 2001:xvii),” to cite Boellstorff, “can help reveal the layers of contingency within the category of the virtually human, rather than exiling such contingency into a category of the poshuman and thereby retrenching the borders of the human itself” (Boellstorff 2007:5). It's through this ethnographic study, and comparison, of actual and virtual harbin that I engage ethnographic methods – participant observation through fieldwork, and write a text, an ethnography, to elucidate these two lines of analysis.
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/02/iceland-poppy-what-is-counterculture-in.html - February 21, 2010)