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Memoria Virtualis. – digitalization of mourning rituals in virtual environments. Nordic Network of Thanatology 24.-26.11.2010 Aalborg, Denmark Anna Haverinen, PhD student University of Turku/University Consortium of Pori Digital Culture anna.haverinen@utu.fi. Background.

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– digitalization of mourning rituals in virtual environments


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    1. Memoria Virtualis – digitalization of mourning rituals in virtual environments Nordic Network of Thanatology 24.-26.11.2010 Aalborg, Denmark Anna Haverinen, PhD student University of Turku/University Consortium of Pori Digital Culture anna.haverinen@utu.fi

    2. Background • Subject from my master's thesis In memoriam – virtual memorials as private, public and virtual spaces (2009) • Historical context, virtual anthropology • Methods: • Virtual ethnography and phenomenography → experience • (Participant) observation, screenshots, video and interviews • Theories: • Social constructivism • Immanuel Kant: transcendential idealism (perception of world and things are depending of previous information)

    3. Research Questions • Why virtual memorials are being created? • Evolution of ”old” rituals? • How and if the concept of memorial changes in virtual environments? • Concept of virtuality vs. concept of afterlife: analogical, opposite or synonyms? • What systems of meanings are associated in virtual memorials? • Constructed identities? Ritual and rites of passage? Intentional activity and creation of collective support and mourning?

    4. Division of Research Material • Only private memorials, no public figures or fan material • Finnish realm, international context: internet doesn't have state lines Virtual Ceremonies • Communal conduct: gatherings and memorial services in virtual environments (e.g. Online-games) Unintentional Memorials • Memorials created around the virtual activity of the deceased (e.g. blogs, YouTube-videos, Facebook-profile) Intentional Memorials • Intentionally created virtual memorials and memorial websites (e.g. Memory-Of.com, VirtualMemorials.com, shrines and features in online-games)

    5. Discourse of Virtual Memorials • Notions of appropriate vs. inappropriate: • death as a ”matter of the family” • ”it's not real!” → CMC discourse from 1980´s • ”it's for the young” • Honoring as a medium for constructing the identity of the deceased • Positive attitudes: Internet as a ”natural” way to communicate, search help and care, keep privacy, show condolence and ”keep face”? • Negative attitudes: Internet as technology understood as dangerous, too public, ”difficult”, ”impersonal”?

    6. Example 1. Memorial Services in Online Role-Playing Games (case of World of Warcraft) Picture: http://news.mmos.com/content/2009-12-03/20091203015408595,1.shtml#ue_pic

    7. Example 1. Memorial Services in Online Role-Playing Games (case of Second Life) Picture: Anna Haverinen, screenshot, 19.3.2010.

    8. Example 2. Shrine of the Fallen Warrior (case of World of Warcraft) Pictures: http://www.wowwiki.com/Michel_Koiter

    9. Example 3. Memorial Websites Picture: Anna Haverinen, screenshot, 2007.

    10. Example 4. Memorial videos (case of Aces High II) Aces High II -memorial for 'Tailspin', 13 yr old girl, Randi Lynn McKenna http://www.vimeo.com/866332 Picture: Anna Haverinen, screenshot, 14.12.2009.

    11. Example 5. Social media (case of Facebook) Picture: Anna Haverinen, screenshot, 26.4.2010.

    12. Virtual Mourning • A demand for different services • - blogs, honorary groups, discussion boards, virtual gatherings, virtual scrapbooking, virtual candles • Need for communal support, chanels to process death, dying and bereavement • Reasons? • - Accessibility? Speed? Availability? Anonymousness? • Need for mourning also among friends and colleagues, not just the immediate family

    13. Thank you for your attention!