New locations: the virtual city


  • Denise Carter University of Hull



While raising questions about the position of the city in anthropological practice, much of the existing discourse has failed to acknowledge that there is a new kind of city out there, the virtual city. However, while the virtual city as a general analytical category may richly fulfil its function as a focal point for cultural meanings, this role may also be problematic, as revealed by my own fieldsite, Cybercity [1]. Against a background that boasts the absence of a shared history of meaning, a new virtual community has been constructed in which human relationships appear to be organised more perfectly than in everyday life. Within this city, being a good citizen is organised around discourses of harmony and unity. This in turn leads to questions about the enforcement of community ideals articulated through the control of both images and texts within the virtual city. By addressing these issues, my aim is not to represent some new model of the city. Rather, it is an attempt to stimulate discussion that will allow a movement towards new models of cities that are central to anthropological practices.

Author Biography

Denise Carter, University of Hull

Denise Carter is a temporary lecturer in social anthropology with particular interests in the transformative effects of the internet, and its increasing embeddedness in everyday lives. She is currently writing an ethnographic account of her three years living and working in a virtual community. This research, among other things, looked at friendship and community, new theories of space and place, the ways in which the challenges of online ethnography informs contemporary ethnographic practices and the writing of postmodern ethnography. For more information see Denise's own web site at