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The Virtual Body: Tom Boellstorff


Date: 03/24/2010

Time: 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Location: Campus Club West Coffman Memorial Union

Cost: Free


Tom Boellstorff is a professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist.


Virtual worlds are places of culture created on the Internet. Given that there already exist thousands of virtual worlds with over a hundred million residents, they are clearly becoming an important domain for human social interaction. Virtual worlds vary greatly in size and form, including game-oriented virtual worlds like World of Warcraft, open-ended virtual worlds like Second Life, youth-oriented virtual worlds like Club Penguin, virtual worlds largely used by educational or corporate institutions, and even virtual worlds accessed on cellphones. However, one thing shared by all virtual worlds is the use of “avatars” for the virtual embodiment of persons.

In this talk, Prof. Boellstorff will draw upon his ethnographic research in the virtual world Second Life to provide a basic history and overview of virtual worlds. He will then focus on questions of the virtual body: how are avatars not just “representations” of the body, but new forms of embodiment that raise fascinating new questions for the relationship between technology and the self? 


  • Name: Institute for Advanced Study
  • E-mail: ias@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-626-5054
  • Sponsored by: Institute for Advanced Study, Anthropology


Reservation Information:  

More information: http://www.ias.umn.edu/symposiumcal.php

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact [name, department, e-mail address, phone number].

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