Anthropology Alumnus Publishes on Virtual Reality and Activism

Categories: Uncategorized

Alumnus and visual anthropologist Scott Wilson (B.A. 1995, Ph.D. Stanford U. 2005), currently Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Cal State University at Long Beach, has published an article in Anthropology News on “Visual Anthropology and Activism.” He and co-author Katherine Scully argue that virtual reality technology might become an important tool in helping us understand the experiences of others. “The distinction between knowing and feeling is important,” they write. “It has long been considered critical in anthropology, given as a reason for anthropologists’ embrace of fieldwork as a methodological practice that leads to better understanding and representation of humans in the world. This distinction. . .also strikes at the heart of how virtual reality (VR) can be applied effectively to activist work. Though VR may not allow us to actually walk in the shoes of another, it can give viewers embodied clues about what it feels like to negotiate the sociocultural, political, and physical contours of the worlds inhabited, negotiated, and reshaped by marginalized people. This is an important first step in affecting change. VR technology and filmmaking is particularly powerful as a tool for activism when paired with existing immersive, collaborative, and place-focused theories and methods.”