Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bromo Tengger Semeru: This actual / virtual ethnography highlights some salient distinctions between Harbin folks and virtual Harbinites

Harbin ethnography:

... They are all expressions of people, i.e. humans, at Harbin, in which this ethnography is particularly interested, ethnographically.

This actual / virtual ethnography, however, highlights some salient distinctions between Harbin folks and virtual Harbinites, both those who have visited actual Harbin, and those who know Harbin only virtually. While terms like posthuman, virtual subjectivity, the 'anthropological avatar,' homo cyber (Boellstorff 2008:29), 'digital representational figures,' and 'virtual, floating Harbinites' may all aptly characterize aspects of what is new in conceptualizing the human in relation to the emergence of virtual worlds, I argue, in the process of humans' symbolizing in the context of evolutionary biology (Deacon), that personhood, and people, take on new significances vis-a-vis multimedia (Packer and Jordan), which we can read in terms of the posthuman, but which, in this ethnography, I find more helpful to limit to ethnographic readings of the Harbin experience for individuals, and for avatars on virtual Harbin. In this book I argue that there are different ways of experiencing Harbin, actually and virtually, for people and for avatars. While “virtual worlds reconfigure selfhood and sociality” (Boellstorff 2008:29), this is due to new forms of symbolization and representation, informed by multimedia in this example of actual and virtual Harbin.


Why write a book? And why write an anthropological book, an ethnography, about actual and virtual Harbin? ...

( - July 21, 2010)

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