Rethinking Digital Anthropology

My analogical goal is the highly consequential project of rethinking the digital with regard to digital anthropology is. In the first part of this text, I begin by addressing an issue with foundational implications for what we take digital anthropology to mean: the relationship between the virtual and the actual. This relation has pivotal ontological, epistemological and political consequences: it determines what we take the virtual to be, what we take knowledge about the virtual to entail and what we understand as the stakes of the virtual for social justice. I focus on the greatest negative ramification of an undertheorized notion of the digital: the mistaken belief that the virtual and the actual are fusing into a single domain. In the second part I engage in the classic anthropological practice of close ethnographic analysis, through case studies drawn from two early days of my research in the virtual world Second Life. In the third part, I link the theoretical discussion of the first part of the text with the ethnographic discussion of the second – another classical anthropological practice.

Released: Replika 108–109, 173–192.
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