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Virtual Environments and Cultures

A Collection of Social Anthropological Research in Virtual Cultures and Landscapes

Edited By Undine Frömming

Virtual reality is no longer an issue that we can avoid or ignore. It is an essential part of our experience, influencing cultures and individuals all over the world. This book presents a collection of ethnographic research in the virtual world of Second Life, and can be seen as an attempt to discover the challenges and limits of social anthropological research with an avatar in virtual cultures and environments. The contributions in this book demonstrate that the development of «digital codes» has meanwhile gone so far that anthropologists have started to conduct fieldwork inside digital user-generated worlds. This volume investigates the challenges facing a reality that is strongly and maybe irrevocably entangled with virtual reality. This development holds disadvantages and dangers but advantages as well - such as freedom of expressions for minority groups, social online activists, religious communities or artists. All research is based on qualitative methods, with group and single interview situations and participant observation over a period of between three and ten months.

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Chapter IV. Conflicts and Activism in Virtual Worlds

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200 Eliade, Mircea 1959. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. Wil- lard R. Trask (trans.). New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. Gilgoff, Dan and Hada Messia 2011. Vatican Warns About iPhone Confession App. CNN World. February 10, 2011. http://tinyurl.com/c2m6t6t [accessed March 2012]. Lukes, Stephen 1985. Emile Durkheim, his life and work: a historical and critical study. Stanford University Press, 25. O’Leary, Stephen 1996. Cyberspace as Sacred Space: Communicating Religion on Computer Networks. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Oxford University Press, 64(4): 781-808. Schroeder, Ralph with Noel Heather and Raymond M. Lee 1998. The Sacred and the Virtual: Religion in Multi-User Virtual Reality. Journal of Computer Me- diated Communication, 4:(2). http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol4/issue2/schroeder. html [accessed March 2012]. Walker, Seth 2010. My[Sacred]Space: Discovering Sacred Space in Cyberspace. Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 22(1). http://www.usask.ca/relst/ jrpc/art22%282%29-mysacredspace.html [accessed March 2012]. Chapter IV Conflicts and Activism in Virtual Worlds 203 Virtual Representations of the Middle East Conflict Tobias R. Becker “But with the emergence of virtual worlds, the virtual world itself becomes a particular so- cial, economic, and political context” (Boellstorff 2008: 62). Introduction During my studies of Fine Arts, I spent a semester of the 2006–2007 academic year studying abroad in Jerusalem, Israel. There I examined representations of the Middle East conflict through several video works. During this period I inter- viewed many different people from Israel and Palestine and tried to portray their different views on politics, territory issues and...

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