Grievable Lives: avatars, memorials and family “plots” in Second Life

Dr Margaret Gibson | Griffith University

  • Friday 27 May
  • Room 601, Michie Building (#9)
  • 1pm - 2pm

Abstract:
Based on fieldwork in the virtual social world Second Life, this paper focuses on its Second Afterlife Cemetery, promoting itself as the first ‘bury your avatar site’. Avatars are symbolically buried and memorialized on this site and so too are the real life biological deaths of people who may or may not have corresponding Second Life avatar lives and histories. In examining the complexity of gender structure, relationships, and family “plots” of memorials, this paper argues that a biological death in real life —while deceasing a second life —does not amount to the loss of one life. Second lives are partially independent of the life behind the screen and may indeed challenge the assumption that the corporeal, ontological gravitas of physical real world existence is the only way life that really matters. The activity of memorializing a second life based on avatar sociality acknowledges and gives value to a computer-mediated, screen-based way of life. This paper argues that avatars as “person formations” are grievable lives, evidenced in the many dedicated memorials created by friends, lovers, partners and family members within SL. As this paper will show, behind memorials are often stories of complex relationships and family “plots”.

Bio:
Margaret Gibson is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at Griffith University and part of the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research. She is author of numerous publications concerning death scenes in film and media culture, public mourning and material culture. Her book Objects of the Dead: Mourning and Memory in Everyday Life (MUP, 2008) examined the symbolic and mnemonic meaning and value of objects left behind after a loved one has died. Her recent research focuses on digital materiality and mourning, and the transnational, social interface of online mourning and memorialisation practices to include publications on YouTube and bereavement vlogging; and the cultural and technological turn of automation in grief and memory work.

About Research Seminar and Workshop Series

The research seminar and workshop series' occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Unless otherwise advertised, the seminars occur on a Friday afternoon from 3-4 pm in the Digital Learning Space (Room 224) in the Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37).

Semester 2, 2018 Seminars & Workshops

 

Monday, 23 July
3pm-4:30pm

Strategic communication in the age of global information warfare: How it works

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Prof Konstantin Pantserev

Friday, 3 August
3-4pm

Algorithmic cultural recommendation: the coded gaze and Google’s face match up

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Caro Wilson-Barnao

Friday, 10 August
9:30am-11:00am

Researching Media Platforms: A Research Methods Conversation

Seminar Room, Level 4, Forgan Smith Tower, UQ St Lucia

Dr Angela Wu (New York University)
Friday, 10 August
3-4 pm

LNR ethics information session

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

A/Prof Liz Mackinlay

Friday, 17 August
3-4pm

Host community acculturation orientations, ethnic minority communication, and perceptions toward ethnic minorities: Studies of Chinese Hongkongers

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Prof Ling Chen
(Hong Kong Baptist University)

Friday, 24 August
3-4pm

Hey Siri! How should I title my talk?

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Dan Angus

Friday, 31 August
3-4pm

Tastemaking in Post-digital Literary Culture: The Role of Book Blogs

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Beth Driscoll
(University of Melbourne)

Friday, 7 September
3-4pm

Can We Separate the Art from the Artist? Should We? Moral Character, Artistic Creation, and Ethical Criticism

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Ted Nannicelli
Friday, 14 September
TBC
HDR forum; Research Data Management workshop; Postgraduate Student Welcome  
Friday, 21 September
3-4pm

Young Adult Fantasy: Policing Genre Boundaries

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

A/Prof Kim Wilkins
Friday, 5 October
3-4pm

Rethinking Postfeminism (and maybe even recent Australian literary history): Australian Chick Lit as the Novel of Feminine Economies of Signs and Spaces

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Marg Henderson