Volkan Eke

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New School U.

Grant number

Gr. 9960

Approve Date

October 29, 2019

Project Title

Eke, Volkan (The New School) "From virtual characters to actual gods: An Anthropology of Japanese game characters in Religious Shrines," supervised by Dr. Abou Farmaian

What business game characters have appearing materially in the shrines of Shinto deities known as kami? This is an ethnographic fieldwork at Shinto shrines and Artificial Intelligence (AI) development labs in Japan to tease out the affinity between religious spirits and virtual game characters. In their affective commitments to actualize virtual game characters, humans replicate material practices (making wishmaking charms, curating Shrine museum galleries etc.) traditionally reserved for ancient Shinto kami. Since depictions of kami has historically been the privilege of modern political authorities and Japan’s own ethnographies of folktale studies, this affinity raises questions about exactly what kind of entities can be thought by coding AI-controlled virtual but spiritual entities.