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

VOLKAN EKE, then a graduate student at the The New School, New York, New York, was awarded funding in October 2019 to aid research on “From Virtual Characters to Actual Gods: An Anthropology of Japanese Game Characters in Religious Shrines,” supervised by Dr. Abou Farmaian. This is a research into the spiritual nature of fictional characters from popular media. Fictional characters encountered in popular media such as video games and entertainment are seen to converge with spiritual experiences: material replica of characters are added to the museum collection of a Tokyo temple, as the former enjoins the ecology of the latter traditionally reserved for entities such as deities. Elsewhere in the globe, such characters travel through social networks online and take root not just in the hearts of fans in the West, but also in their ongoing debates about the state of culture and the spirit of the Western civilization. This research examines such occurrences for clues into the implications of the entry of virtuality into the realm of spirituality. Through a 12-month anthropological fieldwork consisting of interviews, social network analysis and observations with designers, fans and other professionals in the field of games and entertainment, this research contributes to the growing body of literature about character, virtue and morality.