The Anthropology of Cyberspace

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Dr. Susanne Kuehling Office: CL 306. 6; Tel.: 585-4195 Office Hours: Monday 12 – 13 h and by appointment e-mail: Susanne. Kuehling@uregina. ca

Class Dates

M W F 10. 30 – 11. 20 am CL 435

Course Description

This course looks at cyberspace as a human society and utilizes anthropological perspectives to achieve a critical, analytical, and reflexive understanding of the internet and its relations to the real world. It introduces students to anthropological methods and ethical considerations in understanding the virtual life of the inhabitants of cyberspace.

The course will explore our journeys into cyberspace and requires active participation. Please read the assigned texts and be prepared to discuss important aspects in a small group. We will also go online – this is perhaps your only chance to legitimately open certain websites in class! Two in-class exams will consist of short-answer questions that are mostly drawn from the readings. Group activities and group presentations are an important part of this course. Postings on the UR Courses website will also count as participation. The take-home essay (max. 2000 words) will be handed in through (class ID: 3437263, password Cyberspace). Before writing the essay, you need to give me a one-page outline in which you state your essay question, a working title, and a working bibliography of which I have to approve. Essay topics are individual versions of the group activities and are based on academic literature. Please contact me if you encounter any difficulties!

Attendance is mandatory and if you miss more than 6 classes without a valid excuse this will seriously affect your participation grade. Having to go to work is not an acceptable excuse.

In-class exams: 20 % each Take-home essay: 30 % Active participation: 30 %

SSept. 08 Sept. 10

Sept. 13 Sept. 15 Sept. 17

Sept. 20

Sept. 22 Sept. 24

Tentative schedule (subject to changes with notice)


Introduction Media literacy WEEK 2 What is Cyberanthropology? Text discussion: Budka and Kremser 2000; Nardi 1996 What can Anthropology contribute to Media Literacy?

What electronic media do we use?


Survey on media use. Text: Escobar 1994. Discussion: Which areas of cyberspace are most interesting to the class? Cyber-research – presentation: how to find scholarly articles and other information Cyberspace in this classroom: the creation of “islands”


Sept. 27 Each group designs its “cyber island” and briefly presents it to the class

Sept. 29 The history of digital media. Text discussion: Wilson and Peterson 2002

Oct. 01 You Tube text discussion: Hartley In Burgess and Green 2009:126-143


Oct. 04 The machine is us: the work of Michael Wesch

Oct. 06 First Exam: short answer questions

Oct. 08 Discussion of Cyberspace research, text: Guimarães 2005


Oct. 11 Thanksgiving, no classes

Oct. 13 Cyberislands Oct. 15 Cyberspace and gender: text discussion: Webb 2010


Oct. 18 Cyber-space activity: gender

Oct. 20 Cyberspace and money – text discussion: New York Times 2009 Oct. 22 Cyber-space activity: money


Oct. 25 Discussion and evaluation of presentations so far. Essay outline due

Oct. 27 Presentations: abstract of essay topic Oct. 29 Cyberspace and morals – text (to be posted)


Nov. 01 Cyber-space activity: the moral dimension

NNov. 03

Cyberspace and diaspora: excursions to the websites of migrants. Text discussion: Howard and Rensel 2010

NNov. 05 Cyberspace and power relations: gender, money, and morality


Nov. 08 Cyberspace: addiction and time-space compression, Poker and other games

Nov. 10 Cyberspace and language

Nov. 12 Cyborgs and Avatars, text discussion: Dyens 1994


Nov. 15 Film

Nov. 17 Film Nov. 19 Second Exam: short-answer questions


Nov. 22 Final group presentations

Nov. 24 Final group presentations Nov. 26 Final group presentations


Nov. 29 Dec. 01 Evaluation Take-home essay due

Dec. 03 Finishing off

Dec. 06 Cyberparty

Academic Regulations

Announcements for Students in Faculty of Arts Courses, Fall 2010

You are responsible for understanding and following the relevant academic regulations outlined in the Undergraduate Calendar. The most important of these are summarized in Section 5. 1, “Responsibilities of Students”. I strongly urge you to read this section at your earliest convenience. Every year some of our students lose money or academic credit because they overlooked one or more of the university’s rules; don’t let this happen to you.

Academic Misconduct

You are responsible for knowing all of the formal definitions of plagiarism, cheating and other forms of Academic Misconduct, as specified in section 5. 13. 2 of the Undergraduate Calendar. You will not be able to excuse academic misconduct by arguing that you didn't know it was misconduct. If you are unsure, check with your instructor beforehand. The Faculty of Arts will vigorously pursue all suspected cases of academic misconduct; the penalties for it include indefinite expulsion from the University.

Procedures and Dates for Dropping Courses

If you want to withdraw from a class without academic penalty and/or with a refund, you must make a formal request to this effect before the relevant deadline. You won’t automatically be withdrawn just because you stop attending classes. Students who are no longer attending classes but have not formally withdrawn are still considered to be registered, will not have their fees refunded, and will be assigned a failing grade of NP for the course. Please consult section 1. 2. 1 of the Undergraduate Calendar for refund deadlines.

It is Faculty of Arts policy that “Faculty teaching undergraduate courses will return graded assignments and/or exams worth at least 20% of the overall mark before the deadline for students to withdraw from a class with a grade of W. This principle will be waived only when implementation clearly would be impractical, such as for an honours thesis course. ”

Procedures for Requesting Deferrals of Final Exams or Term Work

If for reasons beyond your control (such as illness, accident, or a death in the family) you become unable to complete your term work or final exams, please contact the Student Services Office of your Faculty or College as soon as possible for advice about getting your course work deferred. The procedures for deferrals are outlined in section 5. 7 of the Undergraduate Calendar.

Cancelled Classes

When instructors can’t make a given class, they are to inform their department, which will post a sign outside the classroom that day notifying students that the class is cancelled. If an instructor does not come to class and no notice has been posted, please contact the relevant department office.

University Email Accounts

You should check your University of Regina email account regularly because the University will send any official correspondence to that address. You can easily have your University email forwarded to a commercial account like Hotmail by using the form available at item 3 on the "Top ten items of interest" listed at http://www. uregina. ca/compserv/. If you do so, however, be sure to check your junk folder for the first while, since some commercial email accounts classify University-originated emails as junk.

Personal Information

Please be sure to update your personal information at the beginning of each semester (address, telephone number, etc. ) online if anything has changed.

Special Needs

Any special-needs students requiring accommodations in the classroom must first contact the Coordinator of the Disability Resource Office (585-4631) and then arrange to meet with the course instructor. A statement of the Faculty’s policies and procedures for special needs students can be obtained from the Student Services Office in CL 411 or at http://www. arts. uregina. ca/current-students/new-students/special-needs.

University Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy

All members of the University community are entitled to a professional working environment, free of harassment and discrimination. See section 8. 4. 6 of the Undergraduate Calendar for details.

Early Referral Program

Faculty of Arts students may participate in a student support initiative, Early Referral Program. Students may face challenges in undertaking course work and there are many resources available on campus that can provide assistance. If your instructor feels that you may benefit from additional support, he/she may forward your name and you will be contacted and offered an appointment with an advisor. Refer to www. uregina. ca/sdc for more information.

Faculty of Arts Code of Classroom Conduct

Things not to do in the classroom

1. Arrive after the class is scheduled to begin.

You’re distracting your fellow students from their note-taking. If there are in-class exercises or group discussions, your late arrival can throw off the allocation of tasks upon which the instructor settled before you arrived.

2. Leave before the class is over (or at least before it is scheduled to end). Unless you’ve previously explained the situation, your instructor may think your departure is a comment on the class itself. If fellow students are scheduled to present later in the hour, they’ll hardly find your early exit flattering.

3. Engage in side conversations with your fellow students. You’re publicly declaring that you’re bored and have better things to do with your time than listen to your instructor. Polite people find a way to conceal their boredom. It also makes life difficult for the students around you who do want to hear what the instructor has to say.

4. Text your friends and relatives. This is just another form of side conversation.

5. Let your cell phone ring or, worse still, take a call. Your classmates may laugh the first time your phone rings in class. But they won’t be so amused the next time. And you don’t want to know what they’ll be thinking if you go so far as to hold a conversation in the classroom. If you’re expecting an important call, let your instructor know in advance, leave the phone on vibrate, and exit the room before taking the call.

6. Use your laptop for purposes unrelated to the class. The success of a class depends not just on what the instructor does and says, but also on how well the students listen and interact. If everyone followed your example, the class would be a disaster for all involved. If you plan to take notes on your laptop, think about sitting at the back of the classroom, where typing won’t be as distracting for other students.

I wish you an enjoyable and successful semester.

Cameron Louis, Acting Associate Dean (Undergraduate)

Readings (just a small selection...)

Most titles are available through the library or JSTOR. Please contact me if you face any difficulties in finding the right scholarly articles or books! The bold titles are mandatory course readings which will be on the exams.

  • Bateson, Gregory. 2000. Cybernetic Explanation. In Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Baudrillard, Jean. 2000. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila F. Glaser. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
  • Bell, David. 2001. An Introduction to Cybercultures. London, England: Routledge.
  • Beniger, James. 1989. The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Boellstorff, Tom. 2008. Coming of Age in Second Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Budka, P. and M. Kremser. 2004. CyberAnthropology - Anthropology of CyberCulture. In Khittel, S., B. Plankensteiner, and M. Six- Hohenbalken: Contemporary Issues in Socio-Cultural Anthropology. Wien: Loecker (e-book)
  • Burgess, Jean and Joshua Green. 2009. Youtube. Online Video and Participatory Culture. Digital Media and Society Series. Malden, MA: Polity.
  • Capin, Tolga K., Igor S. Pandzic, Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann, and Daniel Thalmann. 1999. Avatars in Networked Virtual Environments. West Sussex, England: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
  • Castañeda, Claudia. 2001. Robotic Skin: The Future of Touch? In Ahmed, S. and J. Stacey (eds): Thinking Through the Skin. London: Routledge, pp. 223-236.
  • Ceruzzi, Paul. 2003. A History of Modern Computing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Chan, Anita. 2004. Coding Free Software, Coding Free States: Free Software Legislation and the Politics of Code in Peru.

Anthropological Quarterly 77: 531-545.

  • Cherny, Lynn, and Elizabeth Reba Weise. 1996. Wired Women: Gender and New Realities in Cyberspace. Seattle, WA: Seal Press.
  • Clines, Manfred, and Nathan Kline. 1960. Cyborgs and Space. Astronautics (Sept.): 26-27 and 74-75.
  • Currie, Billye B. 2007. The Gambler: Romancing Lady Luck. Toronto: Inner City Books.
  • Davis-Floyd, Robbie, and Joseph Dumit. 1998. Cyborg Babies: From Techno-Sex to Techno-Tots. London: Routledge.
  • Dodge, Martin, and Rob Kitchin. 2000. Mapping Cyberspace. London, England: Routledge.
  • Downey, Gary, Joe Dumit, and Sarah Williams. 1995. Cyborg Anthropology. Cultural Anthropology 10: 264-269.
  • Downey, Gary. 1998. The Machine in Me. London: Routledge.
  • Downey, Gary. 2001. Virtual Webs, Physical Technologies and Hidden Workers. Technology and Culture 42: 209- 235.
  • Dyens, Ollivier,. 1994. The Emotion of Cyberspace: Art and Cyber-Ecology. In: Leonardo vol. 27, 4: 327-333.
  • Eglash, Ron. 2000. When Terrabyte Makes Right: The Changing Role of Computing in the Social Authority of Simulations. San Francisco, CA: American Anthropological Association.
  • Eglash, Ron, and Julian Bleeker. 2001. The Race for Cyberspace: Information Technology in the Black Diaspora. Science as Culture 10: 353-374.
  • Escobar, Arturo David Hess Isabel Licha, Will Sibley, Marilyn Strathern and Judith Sutz. 1994. Welcome to Cyberia: Notes on the Anthropology of Cyberculture. See also Comments and Reply. Current Anthropology 35,3:211-231
  • Featherstone, Mike, and Roger Burrows. 1995. Cyberspace, Cyberbodies, Cyberpunk: Cultures of Technological Embodiment. London, England: Sage.
  • Fischer, Michael. 1999. Worlding Cyberspace: Toward a Critical Ethnography in Time, Space, and Theory. In Marcus, George E. (ed): Critical Anthropology Now. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research, pp. 245- 304.
  • Flichy, Patrice. 2007. The Internet Imaginaire. Cambridge: MIT Press. Forsythe, Diana, and David J. Hess. 2001. Studying Those Who Study Us: An Anthropologist in the World of Artificial Intelligence,

Writing Science. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Freeman, Carla. 2000. High Tech and High Heels in the Global Economy: Women, Work, and Pink-Collar Identities in the Caribbean. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Graham, Elaine. 1999. Cyborgs or Goddesses? Becoming Divine in a Cyberfeminist Age. Information, Communication & Society 2: 419- 438.
  • Gray, Chris Hables. 1995. The Cyborg Handbook. London, England: Routledge. Green, Nicola. 2002. On the Move: Technology, Mobility, and the Mediation of Social Time and Space. The Information Society 18:

281-292. Guimaráes, Mário J. L. 2005. Doing Anthropology in Cyberspace: Fieldwork Boundaries and Social Environments. In Hine, C. (ed. ) Virtual Methods. Oxford: Berg. Hacker, Sally. 1989. Pleasure, Power and Technology. London, England: Routledge. Hakken, David (1999). Cyborgs@cyberspace?: An Ethnographer Looks to the Future. London: Routledge.

  • Halberstam, Judith. 1991. Automating Gender: Postmodern Feminism in the Age of the Intelligent Machines. Feminist Studies 17: 439- 460.
  • Haraway, Donna. 1991. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Haraway, Donna. 1997. Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium. FemaleMan Meets OncoMouseTM: Feminism and Technoscience. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Harcourt, Wendy. 1999. Women@Internet: Creating new Cultures in Cyberspace. London, England: Zed Press. Hayles, N. Katherine. 1996. Narratives of Artificial Life. In Robertson, G. et al. (eds.): FutureNatural: Nature, Science, Culture. London,

England: Routledge, pp. 146-164.

  • Helmreich, Stefan. 2000a. Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Helmreich, Stefan. 2000b. Flexible Infections: Computer Viruses, Human Bodies, Nation States, Evolutionary Capitalism. Science, Technology and Human Values 25: 472-491.
  • Henderson, Kathryn. 1998. On-line and On-Paper: Visual Representations, Visual Culture, and Computer Graphics in Design Engineering. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Hine, Christine (ed). 2005. Virtual Methods. Issues in Social Research on the Internet. Oxford: Berg. .
  • Holtgraves, Thomas M. 1988. Gambling as Self-Presentation. Journal of Gambling Behavior 4,2: 78-91.
  • Howard, Alan and Jan Rensel. 2010 (in preparation). Issues of Concern to Rotumans Abroad: A View from the Rotuma Web Site. Manuscript.
  • Jones, Steven. 1997. Virtual Culture: Identity and Communication in Cybersociety. London, England: Sage.
  • Kolko, Beth, Gilbert Rodman, and Lisa Nakamura. 1999. Race in Cyberspace. London, England: Routledge.
  • Livingston, Jay. 1974. Compulsive Gamblers: Observations on Action and Abstinence. New York: Harper Torchbooks.
  • Lykke, Nina, and Rosi Braidotti. 1996. Monsters, Goddesses and Cyborgs. London, England: Zed Books.
  • Markham, Annette N. 1998. Life Online: Researching Real Experience in Virtual Space. Walnut Creek, Cal.: Altimira Press.
  • Meikle, Graham. 2002. Future Active: Media Activism and the Internet. London, England: Routledge.
  • Michael, Mike. 2000. These Boots are Made for Walking: Mundane Technology, The Body, and Human-Environment Relations. Body and Society 6: 107-126.
  • Mikula, Maja. 2003. Virtual Landscapes of Memory. Information, Communication & Society 6: 169-186. .
  • Miller, Daniel. 1987. Material Culture and Mass Consumption. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell.
  • Nakamura, Lisa. 2002. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity and Identity on the Internet. London, England: Routledge.
  • Nardi, Bonnie A. 1996. Cyberspace, Anthropological Theory, and the Training of Anthropologists. Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 14,1:34-35.
  • Nardi, B. 2010. My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press Nelson, Diane. 1996. Maya Hackers and the Cyberspatialized Nation-State: Modernity, Ethnostalgia, and a Lizard Queen in Guatemala. Cultural Anthropology 11: 287-308.
  • Nunes, Mark. 2006. Cyberspaces of Everyday Life. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press.
  • O'Riordan, Kate, and David Phillips. 2007. Queer Online: Media Technology & Sexuality. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
  • Phillips, David. 2002. Negotiating the Digital Closet: Online Pseudonymity and the Politics of Sexual Identity. Information, Communication & Society 5: 406-424.
  • Powers, Richard. 2004. Galatea 2. 2: A Novel. New York, NY: Picador.
  • Riskin, Jessica. 2003b. The Defecating Duck, Or, The Ambiguous Origins of Artificial Life. Critical Inquiry 20: 599-633.
  • Ross, Andrew. 1990. Hacking Away at the Counterculture. In Penley, C. and A. Ross (eds.): Technoculture. Minnesota, MN: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 107-134.
  • Ryan, Marie-Laure. 2006. Avatars of Story. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press. Schaffer, Simon. 1994. Babbage's Intelligence: Calculating Engines and the Factory System. Critical Inquiry 21: 203-227.
  • Schroeder, Ralph and Ann-Sofie Axelsson (eds.) 2006. Avatars at Work and Play: Collaberation and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Sheller, Mimi, and John Urry. 2003. Mobile Transformations of 'Public' and 'Private' Life. Theory, Culture & Society 20: 107-125.
  • Shields, Bob. 1996. Cultures of the Internet: Virtual Spaces, Real Histories, Living Bodies. London, England: Sage, 1996.
  • Silver, David and Adrienne Massanari, editors. 2006. Critical Cyber-Culture Studies. New York: New York University Press.
  • Slater, Don. 2002. Making Things Real: Ethics and Order on the Internet. Theory, Culture & Society 19: 227-245.
  • Smith, Mark, and Peter Kollock. 1999. Communities in Cyberspace. London, England: Routledge.
  • Stone, Allucquere Rosanne. 1991. Will the Real Body Please Stand Up? Boundary Stories about Virtual Cultures. In Benedikt, M.: Cyberspace: First Steps. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 84-118.
  • Taylor, T. L. 2009. Play between Worlds: Exploring Online-Gaming Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, introduction, pp. 1-19 and chapter 4, pp. 93-124.
  • Tomas, David. 1995. Feedback and Cybernetics: Reimaging the Body in the Age of the Cyborg. Body and Society 1: 21- 43. . *Trend, D. (Ed). 2001. Reading Digital Culture. Massachusetts and Oxford: Blackwell. Turkle, Sherry. 1997. Life on the Screen. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. Turkle, Sherry. 2005. Hackers: Loving the Machine for Itself. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Valentine, Gill and Sarah L Holloway. 2002. Cyberkids? Exploring Children’s Identities and Social Networks in On-line and Off-line Worlds. In: Annals of the Association of American Geographers 92,2: 302-319.
  • Webb, Stephen. 2001. Avatarculture: Narrative, Power and Identity in Virtual World Environments. Information, Communication & Society 4: 560-594.
  • White, Michele. 1999. Visual Pleasure in Textual Places: Gazing in Multi-user Object-oriented Worlds. Information, Communication & Society 2: 496-420.
  • Williams, J. Patrick, Sean Q. Hendricks, and W. Kieth Winkler (eds.). 2006. Gaming as Culture. Jefferson, N. C.: McFarland and Company.
  • Wilson, Samuel, and Leighton Peterson. 2002. The Anthropology of Online Communities. Annual Reviews of Anthropology 31: 449- 467.

Have a nice term, both on- and offline!