Accepted Paper:

"The old me, the new me, and the new me again": crafting future selves in online worlds  


Espen Helgesen (University of Bergen)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I explore how children engage in timework as they craft avatars in an online world. I argue that, in giving imagined future selves material form, avatars allow for projections of, as well as experimentation with, the capabilities and limitations of the human body.

Paper long abstract:

Children in Norway are increasingly inhabiting online worlds, where new kinds of self-formation emerge as they craft and experiment with avatars. In this paper I draw on ethnographic fieldwork from an urban neighborhood in Kristiansand, Norway, to explore how 8- and 9-year old children playfully imagine and embody future selves in an online world called MovieStarPlanet. I argue that avatars constitute chronotopes; potent spaces of compressed time where children imagine and act out a variety of futures. Whereas children's actual bodies grow at an imperceptible rate, avatars can, and often do, change their outward appearance with the single click of a mouse. The concept of timework, which refers to the practical aspects of people's engagement with temporality, draws attention to how imagined futures are given material form in children's play.

Panel P020
Future(s) with/of the human body