Saturday, October 30, 2010

Moon over canyon: Methodology, Articulations and Disjunctions between Actual and Virtual Harbins

Harbin ethnography:

... What's going on here, and how are we going to ask this?

My choice to focus on both actual and virtual 'Harbins' highlights not only seeking to understand ethnographically the culture (Boellstorff 2008:61) of virtual Harbins, but also what emerges virtually from actual Harbin, as this place and fabric of life have emerged from the 1960s especially vis-a-vis countercultural processes. In seeking to examine both unreified ('un-thingified') 'culture,' as well as 'counterculture,' in relation to actual and virtual Harbin Hot Springs, as both distinct and interactive processes and temporalities (Cerwonka and Malkki), I assert that ethnographic methods provide a best set of approaches for representing precisely their articulations, disjunctions, and new emergences. Here place, and the placelessness of virtual Harbin, the virtual in general, as well as the ideas of these in people's bodyminds, find new form, both independently of one another, and as a whole. Certainly, in an virtual Harbin in Open Simulator, we will find individuals and avatars who have never met on-the-ground, and, based any where in the world, or even in space, only come to relate via virtual Harbin; in this sense, virtual Harbin may come to be understood as a completely separate, isolated world – as another planet.

While I suggest here that it's possible to conceive of a virtual Harbin in Open Simulator as a kind of separate planet, which we can understand ethnographically in its own terms, as we shall see, I also have and will explore ways in which individuals and end users and in-world avatars on virtual Harbin, relate, examining, in particular, the relationship between residents and visitors to actual Harbin in northern California, and there engagement in both making and being on virtual Harbin. ...

( - October 30, 2010)

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