Abstract for UC Berkeley talk "Naked, Virtual Harbin" today, 2 Nov 2012




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Streamed live on Nov 2, 2012

Title: Naked, Virtual Harbin: An Anthropology of Erotisme and the
Touristic Imaginaire

And this title (and abstract):

Virtual Harbin to Come: An Anthropology of Harbin Pool Area and the
Touristic Imaginaire


In this paper I present an ethnographic interpretation of Harbin Hot
Springs in terms of the virtual, as well as the erotic, in the context
of the information age, and in terms of an actual place. Harbin Hot
Springs is a clothing-optional, New Age community and hot springs'
retreat center in northern California, which began in 1972 in its
present form, and is my actual / virtual, ethnographic, field site,
about which I'm writing a book, probably to be published next year,
tentatively entitled something like "Naked Harbin: Hippies, Warm
Pools, Counterculture & Clothing-Optional, Virtual Harbin." In this
talk, I come into conversation with two approaches in tourism studies
to examining the virtual, and the implications of the internet for
this field, - both Dean MacCannell's analysis in his paper "Virtual
Reality's Place", as well as my own in a paper I wrote in Nelson
Graburn's class in 2001, entitled "Gazing at the Box: Tourism in the
Context of the Internet and Globalization (Internetity)." In my talk
here, virtuality primarily refers to something "not physically
existing, but created by software to appear to do so," and thus refers
to forms of representation, both symbolic as well as what occurs in
people's bodyminds, thus in our imaginations, in this interpretation.
By contrasting the actual with the virtual, through proposing the
making of a virtual Harbin in a virtual world, as ethnographic field
site for comparison with the actual, I suggest that we can engage
participant observation as field method / pool play, in a novel and
emergent approach in anthropology. By contrasting the term 'Techne,' -
roughly as 'making things with technologies,' - which centrally
informs Tom Boellstorff's argument in his "Coming of Age in Second
Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human" (Princeton 2008)
with the term 'information' which is central to my concept of the
virtual in my upcoming, "Naked Harbin" book, I privilege Harbin's warm
pool-informed milieu as generative of Harbin's alternative- or
counter-culture, and a kind of virtuality. The polysemic concept
'culture,' here as milieu / fluid code, is central to my
interpretation of Harbin; Harbin's counterculture is a novel
expression of the virtual at actual, on-the-ground Harbin. My thesis
in this talk, ethnographically informed via field work which I'm
exploring anew in terms of pool play vis-a-vis the significant,
Harbin, warm pool, is that the serene, Harbin Hot Springs' warm pool
along with the clothing-optional pool area, as a whole, there, in
particular, give rise to the relaxation response / meditation, plenty
of naked soaking and cuddling over decades, a 1960's informed,
alternative milieu influencing sociality, and a kind of biological
harmony, communitas and oneness, - all of which are an
unique-to-Harbin, virtual experience, and which can be
ethnographically examined in a virtual world Harbin in numerous
unfolding ways. Residents and visitors to Harbin, each as kinds of
tourists, and significantly hippy-informed, engage this Harbin
experience, where the erotic permeates the pool area especially, and
visitors greatly enjoy / revel in this imaginaire or milieu.

I've added my talk's title, abstract and address information to a recent blog entry, as well ...

My Harbin book information will appear here http://scottmacleod.com and http://scottmacleod.com/HarbinHotSpri... (this last web page is still in development).


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