research group – reading group


Week 2 Articles: Spring 2013

The following articles are for our reading group meeting on Monday, February 25. We are not meeting on the 18th as CUNY is closed.

I. Lesbians In Cyber(space)

Friedman, Elisabeth Jay. 2007. Lesbians in (cyber) space: the politics of the internet in Latin American on-and off-line communities. Media, Culture & Society 29.5 : 790-811.

Abstract: “Living in societies that use law, mainstream media and social opprobrium to deny their enjoyment of basic rights – and sometimes their very existence – Latin American lesbians have long relied on alternative ways of expressing and associating themselves. In the late 1990s, they adopted a powerful new tool that is also a’virtual’ space: the internet, or cyberspace. This article argues that cyberspace – the dense web of information and communication created by email, chat, distribution lists and websites – is a virtual public sphere especially useful for Latin American lesbian communities. The internet addresses the central problems impeding the effectiveness of lesbian organizing: isolation, repression, resource restriction and lack of community cohesion. Despite the opportunities cyberspace offers, it presents new challenges for organizers, from an increase in responsibilities to an erosion of political accountability. Nevertheless, the contributions of the internet far outweigh the complications it brings.”

Keywords: email, feminist, homosexuality, Mexico, South America, website

II. Harvey and Haraway in Conversation

Harvey, David , and Donna Haraway. 1995. Nature, Politics, and Possibilities: a Debate and Discussion with David Harvey and Donna Haraway. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13(5): 507–527.

Abstract: “The following is a transcript of a debate and discussion with Donna Haraway and David Harvey, conducted at a public session during the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago, 17 March 1995. The previous day, Donna Haraway delivered an invited lecture at the AAG entitled “Mice into wormholes: a meditation on the nature of no nature.” The debate was chaired by Neil Smith.”

III. Cyborg Anthropology

Downey, Gary Lee, Joseph Dumit, and Sarah Williams. 1995. Cyborg Anthropology. Cultural Anthropology 10(2): 264–269.

Abstract: “The following is the text of a paper we presented at the 1992 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco. It represents a first attempt at positioning cyborg anthropology in a late capitalist world that situates academic theorizing alongside popular theorizing. We view cyborg anthropology as a descriptive label that marks a cultural project rather than an elite academic practice. In other words, cyborg anthropology is not just for anthropologists or other professional intellectuals. Although we cite broad social and intellectual movements, we do not detail specific relations of affinity through references. We are publishing this statement because we think it provokes important discussions.”

Week 1 Articles: Spring 2013

The following articles are to be read for our reading group meeting on Monday, February 11.

I. Culture of the Cloud

Boellstorff, Tom. 2010. Culture of the Cloud. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research 2(5): 4 – 9.

Abstract: The goal of this speculative essay is to ask after potential consequences of the emerging notion of “cloud computing” for virtual worlds, but also for human sociality more generally. I explore the short history of cloud computing and some presuppositions that shape construals of “cloud computing” and its consequences. I examine convergences and distinctions between cloud computing and virtual worlds, and what this tells us about new forms of computer-mediated culture.
Keywords: cloud computing, virtual worlds, social networks

II. Doing Gender in Cyberspace

Eklund, Lina. 2011. Doing gender in cyberspace: The performance of gender by female World of Warcraft players. Convergence: vol. 17 no. 3 323-342

Abstract: This explorative study focuses on the performance of gender and sexuality in World of Warcraft (WoW), an online game, following Butler’s performance theory. Through interviews with female WoW players, gender and sexuality is analysed. The article argues that we cannot study gender online without also looking at sexuality. Gender performances are discussed within the framework of four themes: the avatar; strategies; sexuality, and the contextual importance of WoW. Results show that gender identity construction in WoW is an ongoing process highly dependent on the social context of play. The women interviewed created gendered and sexualized identities constrained and empowered by the rules of the game and the opportunities it offers as well as of their social relations. Although a heterosexual norm rules, there are possibilities hitherto unrecognized for queer performance within the gendered role play in WoW and the game offers the possibility of multiple and alternative performances of the self.
Keywords: gender identity, MMORPG, performative, sexuality, social context, World of Warcraft

III. Anthropology and the Future

Escobar, Arturo. 1995. Anthropology and the future: New technologies and the reinvention of culture. Futures, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 409-421. 1995.

Abstract: Computer, information and biological technologies are bringing about a fundamental transformation in the structure and meaning of modern society and culture. Not only is this transformation clearly susceptible to anthropological inquiry but it constitutes perhaps a privileged arena for advancing anthropology’s project of understanding human societies from the vantage points of biology, language, history and culture. This article reviews the types of cultural analyses that are being conducted today in the social nature, impact, and use of new technologies and suggests additional contexts and steps toward the articulation of an ‘anthropology of cyberculture’.

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