Friday, September 16, 2011

Western Caucasus Mountains, Russia: Anthro - Tourism in the Context of the Internet, Middle Eastern online UNESCO sites, Virtual St. Kilda, Harbin

Dear N,

Here's an outline of my contributions to tourism studies, per the papers I've written (some of which are here:, the first of them significantly vis-a-vis the field you've so richly helped to establish.

Gazing at the Box: Tourism in the Context of the Internet and Globalization (Internetity) - (2001) - theorizes Tourism Studies in terms of Modernity, Postmodernity, Advertising Discourse, and what I'm calling Internetity, by historicizing it in terms of these conditions, and examining some online examples , including the Louvre, from around the year 2,000 CE.

In “Digital Communication Processes: New communication processes and 'Middle Eastern' UNESCO World Heritage Sites Online” (a published chapter in a 2006 book on Tourism, edited by Rami Daher), I argue that the German web site Schaetze der Welt's ('Treasures of the World') representations of Middle Eastern UNESCO sites, in German, and in the website's, texts and photographs, engage in Orientalism (Edward Said), examining, in the process, how Packer and Jordan's characterization of multimedia (see their book 'Multimedia' 2001), as integration of media elements, interactivity, hypermedia, immersion and narrativity, successfully and usefully provide ways to think about this digital orientalism as well as online communication processes in terms of online tourism research.

In my actual / virtual St. Kilda thesis at the University of Edinburgh (2003-2004), I examined how, and made the argument that, people are visiting the virtual island of St. Kilda, a web site made by the National Trust of Scotland, with guest book, virtually as place, in nascent multimedia (QuickTime movies, photos, web site sounds of birds, ocean, etc.). I did this by interviewing a sample of people who had signed the virtual St. Kilda guest book, leaving their email addresses in the process.

In my actual / virtual Harbin, I offer a pools-centric interpretation of clothing-optional Harbin Hot Springs, from 1972 forward. I'm presently writing the 5th chapter, with the virtual Harbin in ScienceSim (like OpenSim, and Second Life, but created by Intel), to come. In this book, I'm examining, anthropologically, questions of how Harbin emerges from the 1960s as counterculture, questions of the virtual, focusing on the Harbin warm pool and Harbin folks, and will examine, via participant observation, comparing and contrasting, how, and in what ways, the fabric of life in the Harbin valley might begin to emerge into virtual Harbin. I'm coming into conversation fully with Tom Boellstorff's “Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtual Human” in the process, and also as methodology. (By creating a virtual Harbin in ScienceSim, I hope to contribute a significant methodology to Anthropology (building on Ruth Tringham's Catalhuyuk, etc.), potentially making it easy for Anthropologists and Anthro Students to build their field sites virtually – and perhaps in conjunction with World University and School).

World University and School is coming along, but it and I'm greatly in need of monies and collaborative opportunities with great universities.


( - September 16, 2011)

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