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Virtual Reality in Higher Education: Using VR to Understand and Explore Ancient Maya Metaphysics

June 25, 2018

Anthropologically Critiquing Reality: Virtual Realities and Actual Realities

January 24, 2018

Seasonal Rhythms and Quotidian Duties: Insights into the Impact of Environment on Structuring Daily Life Using El Eden Wetland, Quintana Roo, Mexico a...

January 17, 2017

Teaching a Digital Anthropology

January 4, 2017

Digital heritage and Archaeology

January 4, 2017

Cerro Maya 3d (Cerros), Belize

January 3, 2017

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Understanding the Ugandan Knuckles VR Faux Cult: White Gamer Culture, Virtual Performance, and Representations of African Culture and Religion

November 20, 2019


Jeffrey R. Vadala PhD
Temple University 

Alissa M. Jordan PhD
University of Pennsylvania

This research explores the emergence of the Ugandan Knuckles online virtual reality cult. We do this by using the case study of users of a meme-avatar, known as the Ugandan Knuckles, that dramatically “took over” a virtual reality social platform, VRChat. After its introduction, this meme rapidly transformed the futuristic VRChat social sphere into something many users considered entirely “unusable.” Historically and ethnographically exploring how this happened, we characterize the emergence of the Ugandan Knuckles phenomena as an assemblage of multiple interconnected components and flows of social power, technology, virtual embodiment and representation that eventually came to reiterate deeply problematic media depictions of african culture, religon, and black masculinity. We also explore the social processes that contribute to constituting virtual reality platforms like VRChat into both the what some call the “future of online socializing” but also commonly an “infested” “trollfest.” We are preparing a peer reviewed publication for release in 2020. 

 

Screenshots of VR Ethnographic Work:

 

 

 

 

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