Arrivals and Departures.
Imagine yourself as an anthropologist, newly coming to Harbin Hot Springs in the early 2000s, decades after the '60s have passed, and beginning to do field work, but as your field work develops you find that your participant observation focus is drawn to the Harbin pools, neither a traditional 'field' nor terra firma, and where a curious kind of harmonizing and openness seems to emerge. Imagine further that you are completely new to anthropology, and that Harbin will become your place of study because the hippy culture there is fascinating and you want to understand it, and write about it for future generations. Imagine, too, that you have been building virtual islands in Second Life and Open Simulator, a contemporary open source virtual world, and see that building a virtual Harbin would be great, and it would also allow you to do something completely new in anthropology, – create a virtual field site for the study of 'counterculture,' and potentially to preserve and perpetuate the 'culture' you find at Harbin, in a completely new form.
Some anthropologists will recognize the paragraph above as coming into conversation with Bronislaw Malinowski's “Argonauts of the Western Pacific,” published in 1922, as well as Tom Boellstorff's “Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human,” published in 2007. Both Malinowski, and Boellstorff now in a virtual world, develop a significant, historical trajectory in anthropological research of the importance of field work and participant observation, emphasizing the actual experiences with which writers have reached their conclusions. Both Malinowski and Boellstorff take the methods and theories of anthropology, regarding “actual” experiences, “actual” belief, and “actual” life, and apply them to writing ethnography. In this actual/virtual Harbin Hot Springs' ethnography, I'll engage these anthropological practices in both writing comparable ethnographies of the actual and virtual in one book, and, in anthropologically building a virtual Harbin, I'll explore how these constructive practices of building an anthropological, virtual field site - for ethnographic study - furthers practices of constructing the actual and the virtual, - of developing new forms of anthropological representation, in understanding the virtual.
I'm an anthropologist whose work has focused on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Internet, communication technologies and multimedia in the past (MacLeod, 2006), but in ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/02/trobriand-islands-imagine-yourself-as.html - February 18, 2010)