research group – reading group

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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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