When I read the interesting thoughts about a Spanish Civil War
mini-enclave in SecondLife, I thought it an interesting idea, but
also wondered if it might be too peaceful to represent the reality,
or even an sufficient virtuality. You can have wars and
assassinations in 2ndlife, but only in designated zones. Another
middle-class fantasy, perhaps, but in an online universe where
ANYTHING is possible, people like a little control over their
fantasies, or at least their outer limits.
I deleted the post, but I think there was some confusion between EVE
Online, the out-in-the-galaxy space wars (and cultures, and
economics) game, and EVE as a shortcode for Everquest, another
fantasy-world (no space travel that I know of) online.
It might be interesting to see how history would turn out in these
alternate realities if, insteading of replaying one version or
another of the Civil War, people just set up the factions, which
might attract their proponents today as in the last century
(believers or perverse role-players), and see what happens?
As to "thick description," it's not really meant to be just
description, but rather interpretive accounts that bridge between the
participant perspective and the observer perspective. Savvy
anthropologists like Geertz know/knew very well that ethnography was
never politically or morally neutral, and Geertz' rejection of
abstract theorizing in the field was meant as a move towards
something more like praxis, a rising to the concrete where what
matters is what people do to make and change their lives in terms of
what things mean to them. Where, after all, do correct ideas come
from, if not from the people?
At 02:35 PM 11/1/2006, you wrote:
> "You would have a Republican shop, a monarchist shop, a
>communist shop, a fascist shop, an anarchist shop, a papist shop...etc.
>The shops could be decorated with posters or other artifacts of the
>time, and you might select music that might play in each shop. You could
>conceivably design an interactive robot who would spout the political
>platitudes of that particular shop owner. The final activity would be to
>go around and visit all the shops and do some comparing/contrasting.
>"I always thought this was the best way to understand "thick
>description" and similar concepts."
> One problem I always had with Geertz was that "thick description"
> remained just that . . . an observational/contemplative perspective
> . . . as though somehow there is such a thing as a culture that you
> can understand without entering it, without being a part of it,
> that is w/o taking a position in something that is already
> polarized in the conflictual structure of History since a long time ago
> --> leads to -->
> considerations on the spain '36 Second Life scenario (Second
> Life,the ideal kind of peaceful, friendly, very unrealistic space
> that epitomizes the contemplative attitude Marx descried in the
> Theses on Feuerbach) and I couldn't help but think that such a
> situation could never give an idea of what Spain must have been
> like back then (collectively paying for the sins they committed
> against the peoples of the southern part of the western hemisphere
> of planet earth??).
> To make such a scenario more real, it might be better to set it
> up as different stars systems in EVE (which has more realistic
> graphics anyway) where the Fascists would have their shops that you
> could visit and read all about cultural degeneracy and such, meet
> the founder of Opus Dei, etc. but you could also witness them
> bombing Guernica , murdering Garcia Lorca, and the like when you
> visited the Republican systems which they were attacking. And in
> general, everyone would be toting guns and shooting at each other
> but I think the Republicans would have better art and poetry, be on
> the right side of History, and in the end be more worth taking a side with.
>Mike Cole <email@example.com> wrote:
> Amazing, larry. Thanks for that story.
>Republican Spain was not utopian. Today I teach Orwell. But some truly
>people with the good sense to be premature anti-fascists died there, to save
>On 11/1/06, Davies, Larry wrote:
> > Today seems to be one of those days where a lot of things come together.
> > I have a presentation tonight in my doctoral class (I'm the student, not
> > the teacher) where I need to explain concepts of "deep description" in
> > qualitative research methods, and here is the passing of Geertz.
> > Then Mike asks who knows about the Lincoln Brigades. Coincidentally, or
> > not, the most interesting class I ever had as an undergrad (LONG AGO, don't
> > ask!) was a history of the Spanish Civil War class. Our instructor
> > introduced himself on the first day..."My name is Jon Vigoda, and I'm a
> > carpenter." We all looked at each other wondering who this old man was and
> > what made him qualified to teach the course. "I was a member of a group
> > called the Abraham Lincoln Brigades and I fought against Franco and the
> > Fascists in Spain. That got me labeled as a 'pre-mature
> anti-fascist' by the
> > US government and, as a result, I wasn't allowed to enlist to fight the
> > Nazis."
> > Well, of course, I can't ever forget the class, or the activities we did,
> > like try to hold a cabinet meeting with all the different factions in Spain
> > represented.
> > So, Mike, your comment now gets me to thinking...was that the place and
> > time where I first became interested in what is now called "Activity
> > Theory"?
> > Finally, as I work with faculty here and try to describe effective
> > teaching, I use the following example: one effective way to build in an
> > online world like Secondlife.com would be to have students recreate, for
> > example, a street in Republican Spain in 1936. You could have students
> > working in groups to design a shop owned by people from across
> the political
> > spectrum. You would have a Republican shop, a monarchist shop, a communist
> > shop, a fascist shop, an anarchist shop, a papist shop...etc. The shops
> > could be decorated with posters or other artifacts of the time, and you
> > might select music that might play in each shop. You could conceivably
> > design an interactive robot who would spout the political
> platitudes of that
> > particular shop owner. The final activity would be to go around and visit
> > all the shops and do some comparing/contrasting.
> > I always thought this was the best way to understand "thick description"
> > and similar concepts.
> > At any rate, RIP Professor Geertz.
> > Larry Davies
> > Faculty Instructional Technician
> > St. Thomas University
> > Miami Gardens, FL 33054
> > 305-474-6826
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of Mike Cole
> > Sent: Tue 10/31/2006 10:15 PM
> > To: Paul Dillon
> > Cc: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > Subject: Re: [xmca] :-(( The Passing of Clifford Geertz
> > It seems a time of loss on many many fronts, Paul.
> > How many members of xmca understand what it means to have been a member of
> > the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in
> > Spain? How many have read about Balanese cockfights? Tell use more about
> > Murra, and perhaps point us at a work on
> > ethnohistory. After all, this is a group who at least have an interest in
> > the role of cultural history in ontogeny and we are
> > all, for the time being, developing!!
> > mike
> > PS-- thanks for the interview, phil
> > On 10/31/06, Paul Dillon
> > >
> > > mike,
> > >
> > > more of those uncanny coincidences: on Saturday night I saw my first
> > cock
> > > fight and was thinking about Geertz after many, many years. Although
> > they
> > > are perfectly legal here, unlike Bali, they still provide the kind of
> > > cultural thickness Geertz described and flower networks of
> > meaning. It is
> > > sad to read how he passed since nowadays 80 seems young (at least for
> > those
> > > with good health insurance).
> > >
> > > Not too long ago (10/6 I think) another significant figure in
> > > anthropology died as well; although more famous as an ethnohistorian,
> > > Andeanist, and French-Russian translator for the Abraham Lincoln brigade
> > > during the Spanish Civil War: John V. Murra who was instrumental
> > > in creating the field of ethnohistory.
> > >
> > > Changing of the guard
> > >
> > > Paul Dilllon
> > >
> > > *Mike Cole * wrote:
> > >
> > > Damn!
> > >
> > > http://ias.edu/Newsroom/announcements/Uploads/view.php?cmd=view&id=354
> > >
> > > mike
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > xmca mailing list
> > > email@example.com
> > > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
> > >
> > >
> > > ------------------------------
> > > Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail.<
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > firstname.lastname@example.org
> > http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
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