The landscape for Anthropological investigation is changing as digital social relations become a critical element in social networks of rural and urban people. Rather than a mono-cultural global village we see an increase in local heterogeneity, with individual fractions spanning a global venue.
The landscape for Anthropological investigation is changing rapidly with the approaching ubiquity of digital communications, the social relations forged on these, and the material outcomes of distributed social networks and processes that emerge on a global stage. Digital relationships must not be viewed as a 'special' aspect of people's social lives, but as increasingly central in day to day life.
Late 20th Century thought anticipated a homogeneous global culture occupying a virtual global village. Instead, digital social relations increasingly are critical elements in the social networks of formerly locale based rural and urban populations. Rather than moving towards a mono-cultural global village, we find an increase in local heterogeneity, with individual fractions spanning a global venue. We are seeing great changes in the organisation and operation of urban and rural locales, whether we are considering people in the remote Pamir Corridor in Tajikistan, or Silicon Valley in the USA.
At the turn of the 21st century, the concepts of place and space are being revalued, and the relation of people to places and spaces is being reconsidered mainly within experiential and phenomenological approaches. The connection of people with places acquires new meaning in the context of digital networks, where a sense of place is rapidly being displaced and altered by new technologies. These new technologies attribute increased significance and value to places through 'opening up' places to a world net-based audience and by enhancing the specific and unique character of each locale through provision of direct comparators.
Shijing Zhang (Indiana University Bloomington)
Michael Fischer (University of Kent)Maria Kokolaki (University of Kent at Canterbury)