Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 32

Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 16:132, 2009 Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN:

: 1070-289X print / 1547-3384 online DOI: 10.1080/10702890802605596

Post-Human Anthropology
Neil L. Whitehead
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

This article discusses recent performative ethnographic work in the Goth/ Industrial music scene as the band Blood Jewelhttp://www.myspace.com/ bloodjewelbandand how through the medium of cyber space this has led to different kinds of engagements with ethnographic subjects. This experience is the context for theorizing the basis and forward trajectory of ethnographic fieldwork, especially with regard to topics such as the study of sexuality and violence which have proved resistant to standard ethnographic strategies. The cultural meanings of sexual and violent representation, challenges to normative sexualities, and the emergence of digital subjectivities and ontologies are then examined in relation to this ethnographic approach. It is concluded that an anthropology still stuck in the problematic of the European Enlightenment must urgently consider the disappearance of its traditional subjects as meaningful ethnographic categories of research and work to contribute to the emergence of a post-human anthropology in which the post-Enlightenment subject is re-configured as a participant observer in research. Key Words: Ethnography, sexuality, violence, Internet, performance

The purpose of this article is to broach possible new domains for anthropological thinking, to try to respond to the challenges of such changing human experience by re-thinking some classic anthropological methods, and to sketch out the theoretical basis for an anthropology that is better equipped to adapt to the looming end of the human, as an historically and culturally contingent category. The first part of this essay therefore lays out this agenda in terms of my own research over the last few years and how such challenges have been met through developing a methodology of performative ethnography. This differs from, but is clearly related to, the various forms of performance ethnography (Denzin 2003). However, the notion of ethnographic performance under consideration here is not confined to the theatrical or role-playing moment (i.e., a discreet performance) but is meant to reflect the fact that ethnography itself, in any form, is a cultural performance, which marks it off from, for example, tourism or journalism in a number of symbolic and pragmatic ways.
1

N. L. Whitehead

In the latter part of this article I turn to the emergence of a posthuman anthropology that is an anthropology in which, paradoxically, the human subject is no longer the exclusive center of attention a viewpoint already apparent in the work of a number of scholars and an issue that has a particular relevance for a discipline committed to the research of all things human. Following a ten-year research project in Guyana and Brazil on an assault sorcery complex termed kanaim and its contemporary meanings (Whitehead 2002), it became an important theoretical question for me to ask how it was possible to research violence, knowing full well as a result of this experience, that this is also meant to be entailed in the very violence we hope to understand. Moreover, amongst the most difficult things for us to admit culturally is the sexualized nature of violence, whether that violence is socially legitimate or not (e.g., see Trexler 1995). That topics of sex and violence are inherently difficult to grapple with is also shown by anthropologys minimal if not dismal track record on both, and the more so when these topics are conjoined (Harvey and Gow 1994; Whitehead 2004). Such cultural conjunction nonetheless is as clearly central in the cultural production of contemporary Western cultures whether in the realm of commercial film and entertainment or in the torture camp of Abu-Ghraibas it may be in other cultures worldwide. It is not the prevalence or the importance of the phenomenon that is problematic for us to acknowledge, so much as the professional challenge of deploying ethnographic methods to understand such issues. My ethnographic encounter with kanaim had taught me that violence is always more than its material appearance, that part of the instrumentality of violence could be its endemic and persistent affects on imagination and subjectivity (Kleinman, Das, and Lock 1997). At the same time Western sexuality itself has necessarily become more disembodied and immaterial in a sexually toxic and physically dangerous social world. The explosion of on-line sex sites, ranging from commercialized pornography and camera chat rooms to person-to-person dating and swinger sites, all represent a new realm of sexual experience and subjective engagement. Highly visual, masturbatory, and anonymous the possibilities for safe-sex make such cyber-sexuality, or outercourse, a credible alternative to dangerous intercourse with real people.1 Nor is this just a framework for desire; it is also enacted on a massive scale,2 suggesting myriad ways in which sexual experience has become radically detached from the physical. If the realm of imagination and fantasy is subjectively no less real than that of the material and physical, then we can easily appreciate

Post-Human Anthropology

why cyber-life and its digital subjectivities seems to stimulate and offer opportunities for the expression of both sexual and violent desires. As Freud notes, the uncanny occurs where the accepted structure of a world is violated, when the boundary between fantasy and reality is blurred (Freud 2003: 150), and so to challenge the accepted structure of the world, which clearly has no adequate narrative for either contemporary violence or the sexual, the realm of cyberspace becomes a particularly fruitful context in which to blur such boundaries and perhaps stimulate better intellectual understanding. In Lacans (1982) formulation desire is not a relation to an object but a relation to a lack (manque), and desire appears as a social construct because it is always constituted in a dialectical relationship. Re-theorizing desire therefore requires not so much the unpicking of Lacanian analysis of late-capitalist subjectivity, as incorporating a better appreciation of how desire may be constructed in other cultural worlds, including those of cyberspace. In this way the notions of Deleuze and Guattari (1983), about the nature of desire as being productive rather than imaginary (not theater but a factory) and about the desiring-machines which we become as a result of these productive and socially situated desires, seem more appropriate to the interpretation of changing subjectivities and the elaboration of desire evident in on-line worlds. But how can a Malinowskian methodology get at such human situations that are both geographically unlocated and by definition uncannily disembedded or distinct from localized cultures?

Blood Jewel
I am currently participating in an audio-visual project centered on a Goth/Industrial band Blood Jewel, which is the performative vehicle for research on these concerns.3 We were giving prominent billing in 2006 at Deti Nochi (Children of the Night), an East European annual Goth festival in Kiev, and have made active collaborations with bands in Brazil, France, and Poland since then. Our principal place of performance and promotion since October 2006 is MySpace www.myspace.com/ bloodjewelband, but we are also present on LiveJournal, Vampirefreaks, LiveVideo, FaceBook, and HateBook.4 This project is certainly a success artistically whatever its value as an ethnographic research strategy to better understand the emergence of digital subjectivities. Before we were deleted for profanity from YouTube, our videos had been viewed over 50,000 times, and we are regularly approached by other acts working in the Goth-fetish medium for collaborative projects and performances.

N. L. Whitehead

FIGURE 1 Blood Jewel logo.

This finding suggests that being an effective, and not naive, cultural actor may also be a basis for anthropological understanding and that in the realm of cyberspace it is only through active participation that there is anything to observe at all. In short, in order to understand desire we must become desiring subjects ourselves. In this way performative engagement rather than observing participation changes the basis of ethnographic description from that of inferred and interpreted meanings and motivations to that of auto-ethnographic description and overtly positioned observation.5 The experience thus engendered is not merely biographical because it is the wider relevance of that experience, as a token not just of self but also of a structured engagement with others, that lifts such an approach out of the cultural solipsism of the Malinowskian method. In any case, as Clifford (1997), Fabian (1990), Marcus and Fischer (1999) and others have shown us, these are certainly the challenges for constructing an anthropology of the twenty-first century. Apocryphal evidence for the validity of this kind of re-orientation of intellectual practice (i.e., the project of linking cultural performance to cultural analysis) is directly given by Blood Jewels artistic success because that must in part derive from the theoretical coherence of this ethnographic strategy.

Meta-ethnography
Such theoretical transgression necessarily calls forth transgressive methods of study, and this project is also the opportunity to challenge some of the parochial tendencies of area studies philosophy and Malinowskian ethnographic conventions. In the same way that anthropology has often been silent about the dynamics of violence, for its observation is both inherently dangerous and ethically fraught (Whitehead 2004), so too sexual practicethough not certain kinds of performance of sexualityhas remained largely opaque within anthropological theory.

Post-Human Anthropology

Again this is obviously linked to the way in which methodology of participant observation inherently undercuts its object of study, because observing the sexual practice of others is no less ethically and methodologically complex than in the matter of violence. To this can also be added the challenges of researching phenomena that are transcultural and immaterial, as in cyberspace.6 However, there is an absolute necessity to respond adequately to such challenges if anthropology is itself to remain a credible approach to understanding the world. The suggestion is that we invert the Malinowskian formula of participant observation to also practice observant participation (i.e., to understand and theorize the place of proactive, not just reactive participation) in the cultural phenomena we study. Otherwise, critical understanding of certain kinds of social and cultural features of a situation is simply beyond the reach of ethnographic methods. The proactive nature of ethnographic study has always been present but, despite the turn to reflexivity that marked ethnography in its post-modernist, literary guise this has more the character of some kind of confessional than the theorized, purposeful design of research strategies that overtly acknowledge the obvious fact that ethnographers are also persons acting in the world. Undoubtedly, a failure to properly acknowledge and analyze this aspect of ethnographic method has led to a covert and repressed strategy of ethnographic representation in which the sexuality and violence of others is encoded as part of a non-ethnocentric idea of cultural context.7 It has also led to the production of ethnographic ideas and images that happily reinforce a status quo in which Western observers are invited to perpetually colonize the bodies and imaginations of others, resulting in an ethnopornography.8 In this light the ethnographic gaze is inherently desiring or pornographic, colonial in its possession of others and dominating of their bodies. To avoid this framework of power and subordination requires the death of ethnography of a certain kind, and in its place a resurrection of desire, an acknowledgment of the centrality of desire to the project of knowing and knowledge in all its spheres. The positionality and cultural gaze of Western academics may not be unique, but it is historically privileged and heavily inflected with a form of epistemological rectitude, an intellectual BDSM, through which the pleasures of classification and analysis become akin to the corporeal binding of the ethnological subject. As a result of this philosophical trajectory standard ethnography displaces desire into the space of the unclassified or ethnologically pristine. In this way, the sensual intellectual thrill of penetrating the unknown to encounter the virgin and pristine, the native and authentic, still seems to drive the self-imagining of the ethnographera pleasure

N. L. Whitehead

that in turn has been culturally generalized through the ethnopornography of such representational media as National Geographic Magazine, Travel Channel, or the Discovery Channel.9 This situation thus requires a far better understanding and theorization of desire if the anthropological project itself is to move forward into a twenty-first century of fetishized human relations, practiced in the immateriality of cyberspace, no less than in the context of AbuGhraib torture camp. As a consequence, altering the power relations in ethnography, attempting more equitable collaboration is an important means, perhaps the only means, to really get at sexuality, violence, and the whole field of transnational and virtual phenomena, even if it is not the necessary basis of all ethnographic inquiry for the future (Lassiter 2006). So my research project is not an observational ethnography but a performative one, in which my desire and personal aesthetic response becomes the vehicle for participation in other cultural worlds. Such a performative ethnography thereby reconstructs the binaries of ethnographic subject/object, visitor/visited, and refers us instead to an experience of trans-national cultural modernity as a lived context in its own right, with its own forms of social organization and cultural practice, a kind of super-modernity (Aug 1995). Super-modernity is thus strongly hierarchical, funded by the eurodollar economy and performed by those who control the economic resources in the spaces of the airport, hotel, taxi, and international conference. Such spaces are the field-sites of supermodern life, which itself colonizes all proximate geographical and cultural environs through the consumer purchase of TVs, cell phones, computers, and access to the Internet. In this way the power-relations of technological competence and ownership become a form of neo-colonial dominance embedded in the social and cultural life of the post-colony. Certainly, a performative ethnographic approach has many pitfalls and begs the question as to how then the ethnographers own desires and life-history inform a field-situation. I first did fieldwork when I was twenty-three and I am not sure if I ever came back again because all such experiences are potentially transformative, a feature of travel that has been marked in Western culture since at least the fifteenth century (Harbsmeier 1997). So there was such a moment of blending personal desire and fantasy with the inception of the Blood Jewel ethnography, just as had been the case in my first fieldwork with the Palikur of French Guiana. Equally personal transformations and desires informed, shaped, and were an inevitable consequence of performative participation in Blood Jewel; this is no different, even if it was unacknowledged at the time, from my first fieldwork experience, or anyone elses ethnographic project.

Post-Human Anthropology

The method that developed for the online ethnography, especially in MySpace, entailed not saying, I want to study you, the classic Malinowskian trope of arrival, but rather, I am like you, implying that we already share forms of experience and meaning. In this way personal proclivity and biography were important because this was not a pretense, a mask for ethnographic intent, but for my part a recognition that what was defining for me in my own cultural world was no less relevant to the way in which issues of sexuality and violence might be understood, than was the exotic experience of fieldwork in Amazonia. However, to establish the relevance of this non-exotic experience and then some claim for competency or even authority, as is implied by executing a research program within the canons of anthropological fieldwork, had to be established. Insofar as I am actively contributing to the artistic success of Blood Jewel, then that claim is justified. The band Blood Jewel was obviously not created all at once, so some narrative of origins is important for understanding the way in which the ethnographic project itself became possible. In my lecturing and classroom teaching on the topic of violence, I had found that the use of visual images could be a very important aid to a better understanding of cultural forms and especially as a means to promote critical understandings through the conjunction of discordant images. For example a PowerPoint slide with a picture of one set of protestors displaying images from Abu-Ghraib alongside a picture of anti-abortion protestors displaying extremely disturbing images of surgically mutilated fetuses pointedly raises a number of issues about the meanings of different forms of violence. If then there is a pedagogical value to subjectively, as well as intellectually, engaging students, it was a small step to consider adding music to the presentation of imagery, providing as it were a third mode to this bricolage. One other enabling factor was the relative ease of finding fairly sophisticated software cheaply that allowed the editing of visual and aural materials. This resulted in the making of a video that combined a wide range of violent images, animated in the form of a slide show that kept musical tempo, with what I artistically identified to be the most appropriate music (in this case Depeche Modes Master and Servant). The theoretical point was to draw out the way in which Western modes of violence were a form of sexual fetish, as the just-released materials from Abu-Ghraib, so starkly illustrated (see also McClintock - forthcoming). In fact, the results were, to me at least, so powerful that I began searching for other ways in which this pedagogical methodology might be used and to experiment with other forms of musical/visual mixing. Apparently, these efforts were also impressive to others beyond academia. On the

N. L. Whitehead

one hand, personal contacts I had in the Goth music scene liked the visual element as a way of paying tribute to the music of Depeche Mode, but the problem was clearly that this was an inherently limited context for artistic exploration, even though it did lead to the suggestion that the videos could be an interesting component of a live music performance by providing something to fill the gaps between bands or even as a kind of VJ (video-jockey) club presentation. I pursued this possibility for some time and by shamelessly exploiting personal contacts managed to have some of these videos accepted as part of the Deti Nochi festival program in Kiev, Ukraine.

FIGURE 2 Deti-Nochi festival, 2006, Kiev, Ukraine, Blood Jewels first live performance.

Post-Human Anthropology

On the other hand, and more importantly in the long run, the search for an artistic context in which I could use creative skills and yet retain the pedagogical link to promoting new critical understandings of sexuality and violence led directly to meeting with the person who was to become my principal collaborator in Blood JewelJeff Fields. Jeff liked the way in which the visual materials functioned as a kind of additional lyric element, and he was interested in seeing what might be done with some of the musical material he had already created. Needless to say, I was very impressed by Jeffs music and the opportunity to actively collaborate in designing further music and its visual lyric, although not something I had thought possible before as Depeche Mode was unlikely to need my artistic input, was the key moment from which Blood Jewel as band originated. However, both Jeff and I were also aware from the outset that our close interlacing of musical and visual elements was itself something of an artistic innovation. Obviously, this was not to invent the music video, nor, as in my own early experiments with the music of Depeche Mode, was it new to join music tracks with video content originating from a different source. What is new and may be a substantive part of the artistic success of Blood Jewel was to conceive of the visual and musical elements as closely linked artistic expression. It is probably fair to say that the vast majority of music videos, being simply promotional devices, are either films of a band cavorting in a way that matches some element of the lyrics or simply a band performing the music track. In other words, for musicians the visual element was largely a way of replicating performance rather than a distinct artistic project in its own right. As one of our fans wrote in response to my explanation of what we were trying to achieve:
thanx 4 those words . . . very much . . . you touch on a lot of the things that are important to me in your project . . . your stuff is like videodrome it seems to me that frame rate is critical, is it designed to produce a psycho-physical affect? Is it calibrated in to human aural/visual signal processing capabilities and thresholds? . . . there is a space that is created by your intersection of visual and aural feeds that is trance if you like . . . you dont wanna watch - you gotta watch . . . the music imprisons you in that. . . . and the visual feed becomes an opportunity to say something - a sort of visual lyric . . . yes?

At the same time then the source of that ability to contribute to the contemporary music scene, beyond the imponderable factor of my own creativity, is the cultural milieu from which I personally originate and those in which I participatedLondon youth cultures of the 1980s,

10

N. L. Whitehead

particularly Punk, Ska, and the New Romantics, and this was precisely the scene from which Goth and Industrial music itself emerged in the 1990s.10 In this way, and because the music and bands of that era, such as Depeche Mode or Gary Numan, remain important in the music scene of today the claim I am like you was quite true. But it is also an incomplete claim because alongside a personal fascination and interest in Blood Jewels resonance with its audience, that resonance was also a pedagogical and research opportunity. Pedagogical because although I am contractually obliged to teach University of Wisconsin students, this does not exhaust an interest in teaching beyond the academy. It was also an intellectual opportunity because research on sexuality and violence might be usefully extended into a cultural milieu in which those very issues were at the core of successful artistic expression. Goth and Industrial music endlessly plays with themes of sex, death, and violence, which have in part been important to the development of the contemporary fetish scene. This linkage is very evident with a figure like Marilyn Manson, whose popularity derives from an interest in his questioning of received ideas of sexuality and violence. The classic Goth identity of the vampire, as a sexually transgressive and bloodily violent figure, is of course perfectly expressive of these concerns. If for no other reason, it would be important for any adequate anthropology of violence to be able to interpret the popularity of both fetish sexuality and erotic violence of the vampire in mainstream American culture.11 In any case, who you are or who I am in the off-line world is simply not relevant to the initial interactions of MySpace, and there is apparent equity in decisions as to if, and how, such interactions might or might not continue. In the MySpace site everyone has a profile page that can be linked to a system of requesting/accepting others as friends. Requesting or accepting requests to be friends thus governs the nature of this initial interaction in MySpace, and my working assumption has been that those with a greater number of friends are, in this medium, desirable and successful. The idiom of friends as means through which one may link MySpace to your space derives from the origins of MySpace as a social networking site, like Facebook, Hatebook, LiveJournal, or Vampirefreaks. However, in the last two to three years MySpace has emerged as important in another way because the site facilitates separate types of account for musicians, film makers, and comedians.12 At least for musicians MySpace has become a very important tool for promotion and even an alternative to live performance. Perhaps most bands in MySpace will never be heard outside of that context, but then they never would have been heard at all because the music industry obviously has finite capacity to market

Post-Human Anthropology

11

music, while the entertainment industry, which controls live-music venues, has little interest in discovering and trying to sell new product. Thus, MySpace has become a context in which the fan base and viability of a given musical act might be demonstrated, and this is the significance of the system of friends and importance of the counts made of profile visits and plays/downloads of musical content. In this way the rationale and formats in MySpace are highly appropriate for on-line ethnography because MySpace exists to promote precisely the kind of dialogical exchanges that are also at the core of existing ethnographic methodology. Fans are attracted to band sites for the promise of direct interaction with the band while other artists, visual as well as musical, can define themselves within a particular musical/artistic niche by association and collaboration with established bands. To try to make Blood Jewel successful, I interacted on-line by producing and embodying in an artistic form membership in a band that is expressive of some of the key ideas and values that define the Goth/Industrial community. In particular, Blood Jewel emphasizes structural violence and fetish sexuality, consistent with the theoretical origins of the collaboration between Jeff Fields and me. Artistically fetishized sexuality is represented as a medium for self-empowerment and an erotic response to the threatening and potentially toxic nature of off-line sexual encounter, especially for women. As a result Blood Jewel has proved interesting to women in particular, and the major portion of our active fan base is women. Blood Jewel therefore aesthetically distinguishes itself from consciously masculinized forms of sexual representation, very evident amongst Heavy Metal and its varieties, by foregrounding the erotic power of women.

FIGURE 3 Blood Jewel artworkfrequently used comment motto.

12

N. L. Whitehead

FIGURE 4 Blood Jewel artworkfrequently used comment motto.

At the same time Blood Jewel engages issues of violence through ironic and discordant representations of violence. For example, in our video SpeedKilla13 released in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, images of the perpetrators in the Columbine shooting, as well as other school shooters and Cho, the Virginia shooter himself, are interwoven with short video clips of police shootings, frames from the video game Grand Theft Auto, and photo work showing women and guns. This material is then sequenced between images relating to the film Taxi Driver (Martin Scorese 1976) and Crash (David Cronenberg 1996) to suggest a historical and cultural context for rampage shootings and fetish sexualities that are otherwise represented as stemming solely from the psychopathology of individuals, rather than the cultural milieu of the United States itself. Fan reaction is, as for any band or artist, a way of gauging the success of our music, photography, and videos, and to the extent that we continue to sustain certain kinds of statistical expansion in terms of music plays, profile views, comment volume, comment quality, we can claim a measure of artistic success. Equally, as an ethnographer, I can also make the claim to understand the cultural milieu in which I perform. In this way performative ethnography sustains a theoretical feedback loop, and effective artistic expression can become a form of academic research. Performative felicity, artistic appreciation, and fan

Post-Human Anthropology

13

FIGURE 5 Promotional comment picture for video SpeedKilla.

praise are the evidence of success with this approach, and such success in turn makes performative ethnography the basis of a native knowledge that is a theoretical grounding for the epistemological credibility of auto-ethnographic analysis. This entails that one has to be free to create a personality and let it live in MySpace to participate or, more importantly to have an experience to evaluate; thus, the methodology cannot be too restrictive. I am Detonator of Blood Jewel, often known as simply DT, with responsibility for on-line site maintenance, video, and animation production. I also contribute lyrics and some vocals. Jeff Fields Skullis the primary music originator. At the inception of Blood Jewel we conceived of it as a creative collective that would encourage all kinds of artistic contribution to a broad project that itself was designed to challenge the idea of the band. This was both a pragmatic response to the fact that the collaboration between Jeff and me was not in the manner of the typical notion of a band and as a way of resisting and challenging both the formula of MySpace and of exploring the potentials that on-line performance and expression offered. This philosophy is announced on our MySpace site as follows:
Blood Jewel originated in 2006 as a creative collectivea combination of all our various talents in music, animation, visual style and aesthetic theory. We aim to join those of similar thinking and artistic practice

14

N. L. Whitehead

across the globe to create a new network of global Goth out of Industrial / Electronica / EBM and related musical styles. This fifth wave of intellectual and artistic vision unites the seen and heard to assault the intellectual mind, breaking down old ideas of performance and expression. Violence and sexuality are key to our work for they are the frontiers of human expression and understanding . . . . Cyber-sex, fetish-sex, necro-sex, domination, pain and bdsmthese are all modes of power and artthe violence of armies, states and police is a fetish of powerthe erotics of guns, bombs and missiles leads to the destruction of bodies, the inner destruction of minds, and toxic tomorrows . . . . We undermine the current social ordering of these fundamental human facts through an audio-visual assault on the ideologies and structures of powerwith full body force . . . . Through the gates of tomorrow is a new world of uncharted transgressions, the age of reason is dead . . . . all that is left are our dreams and adventures . . . nothing is alien to us, all things are permitted, do as you will . . . . perform your dreams at full body force!!!

It transpired that this approach is very suited to the context of MySpace which, through the system of commenting on friends profiles and the ability to include visual materials in such comments, allows musical materials to be artistically broadened. Blood Jewel is by no means the only band that uses a lot of graphic material, and there are many examples of sites in which it is hard to say whether the music or the visual art is the more important. This has made MySpace a serious context for the emergence of new kinds of art and probably accounts for the way in which, during 2007 in particular, many established artists, models, and musicians who had not previously been present on MySpace opened new sites. Blood Jewel was a beneficiary of this phenomenon to some extent since we were by then an established presence and with our reputation for an interest in fetish sexuality, we received increasing numbers of friend requests, particularly from female fetish models and performers. In particular, a friend request from the super-model Gisele Bundchen underlined both the growing commercial and artistic importance of MySpace as well as Blood Jewels role in that. As a creative collective, important contributions to Blood Jewel are also made by various other individuals, particularly, Death Kitten, Yompabaan, Konductor, Horus, Cephas, and Poizone. Cephas and Death Kitten also maintain allied MySpace sites, as does Post-Human (discussed below). These contributions have ranged from important technical and artistic assistance in filming, photography and video editing, stylistic and performance suggestions, as well as live dance and fetish play.14

Post-Human Anthropology

15

As an ethnographic project the overarching methodology is thus to use MySpace to try and make it as a band using our own original visual media and sound in an appealing and innovative way. So for the intellectual project of understanding sexuality and violence, via the uncanny medium of cyberspace, our actions need to be genuinely creative and real subjective responses to a potential and now established audience, particularly among our MySpace friends, the core fan-base for Blood Jewel. In this way, even as a researcher, my own subjectivity is engaged, and transformed, along with everyone elses. As a result I have developed responsibilities toward ethnographic subjects in the traditional ethnographic fashion, but with a blending of research and performance this is not the limit of those responsibilities, which now extend into creative relationships, as with models who have worked with us, and other bands who have contributed musically to our videos. These creative collaborations have been vital in establishing the artistic merit of Blood Jewel, and I will briefly outline two different collaborations, which were the first to occur. Blood Jewels high-volume use of visual illustration generates a constant need to find or originate new graphics and the photo-still is crucial to that. While it is acceptable in MySpace to re-use existing graphics, credible art requires original contribution.15 Blood Jewel therefore organized a photo-shoot with the fetish models Miss Ammunition and Bee from Chicago to generate an inventory of original artwork. The results of this collaboration appear regularly in our visual materials and the photo-shoot itself was videoed and posted. For the models, who worked for us for free as a result of their personal interest and engagement with Blood Jewel art, as did the photographer, make-up artists, and jeweler, being featured in our videos and on our page is a useful way to promote their work. Blood Jewel has also collaborated with a number of bands, and our first collaboration, among the most successful, was with the French band Shibari using the track Kliko, which became the video KlikoErotic Ambient.16 As maker of the video I can say that the intention was to tone down the violent sexuality often referenced in Blood Jewel solo productions and to seek an erotic aesthetic that emphasized the power of passive sexual modes, particularly bondage, or as it is termed in Japanese, shibari. Despite this the resulting music video has been the most problematic in terms of censorship. Posting it to our YouTube site resulted in over 10,000 hits in just two weeks, but also the erasure of our YouTube accounts, probably resulting from my taking down a critical comment posted by another user who then revenged themselves on us by complaining to the YouTube administration. This was

16

N. L. Whitehead

FIGURE 6 Artwork from the Blood Jewel fetish-shoot, Chicago, January 2007. Model Bee.

FIGURE 7 Artwork from the Blood Jewel fetish-shoot, Chicago, January 2007. Model Miss Ammunition.

Post-Human Anthropology

17

in the fall of 2007 just after the media corporation Viacom had bought out the original YouTube and was fiercely policing copyright infringement. We had not infringed copyright but of course this was a great way of avoiding the charge of censorship. Notably, YouTube is filled with videos showing extreme violence, often from the war in Iraq, but erotic representation proves far more controversial, at least for an American audience. Kliko-Erotic Ambient has subsequently been repeatedly erased from both our site and that of Shibari in MySpace, although we have developed strategies to keep the video available.17 Obviously, the matter of censorship and challenging normative standards artistically is potentially controversial within the context of ethnographic research. However, ethnographically, my actions are ethically acceptable because they are based on that authentic artistic goal. Nor are such transgressive artistic acts undertaken as a means of experimenting with others lives because it is my own experience of this project that is the auto-ethnographic subject of study. If I were to attempt to research individual users as informants on the processes and dynamics of MySpace, then the relation between on-line identity and off-line social identity would be all important and lead directly to the ethically fraught issues of how much masking of identity and purpose could be legitimate for the ethnographer. However, one might also ask if cyber-personalities are human subjects in the sense that the bureaucracy Humans Subjects Protocols panels suggest? Certainly, we need to at least have this debate as we cannot expect traditional ethical standards of the off-line world to apply formulaically to the study of on-line worlds. In this way my desire (and that of other band members) to create Blood Jewel is essential to making a credible auto-ethnography. The deceptive and rather difficult project of trying to do this simply as a contrived mask for a standard scholarly project about on-line users simply would not work; it would be as ineffective as it is immoral. The ethnographic problem up until this point has been that the mask of being an ethnographer has pushed our own desires out of the picture so that they can only re-enter the idiom of ethnographic reporting in a covert or highly constrained way. Alternatively, we can take experience rather than identity as the starting point for framing ethnographic issues, and this clearly breaks with existing practice and pushes the boundaries of what anthropology is or could be.18 A good example of this methodology is the artwork I have been creating and using as comments to other MySpace users sites. The point here is to explore the theoretical thesis, expressed in earlier works (Whitehead 2002, 2004), that violence is a form of cultural expression with at times creative and positive cultural meaning and that much of

18

N. L. Whitehead

that creative and positive meaning derives from its conjunction with sexuality. A more limited hypothesis would suggest that the use of sexualized and violent imagery with the Goth/Industrial scene should be read as an attempt to construct alternative and empowering imaginaries in which dominant discourses of danger and toxicity are inverted to subvert a perceived status quo of sexual repression and to overcome fear of violence through its imaginative enactment.19 Nonetheless, one may question whether a biologically-grounded sexuality can ever be a subversive sexuality. I think the answer has to be yes in the sense that it is a logical possibility even if at this point in time it is historically challenging and culturally unlikely. The Blood Jewel project is focused on not so much sexual fluidity in gender terms as how gender imaginaries generate erotics, and particularly a gender imaginary which is heterogeneous rather than homogeneous. In other words, the power and erotic dynamic of sexual othering using ideas of gender. This artistic and research orientation limits the potential overall impact of the project on issues of gender fluidity, but to fulfill the auto-ethnographic aspects of the project it is those phenomena with which I am most familiar, comfortable, and capable that dominate the artistic production. This then leaves plenty of scope for othersdifferently motivated and with different sexual proclivitiesto work in related ways.20 In this way Blood Jewels art is theoretically driven and is not just the presentation of theory, but rather an active performance of theory. This orientation is not without precedent and in particular the use of the erotic and sexual in avant-garde art is well established through figures such as an Andy Warhol or Robert Mapplethorpe (Osterweil 2004). The dialogic process of commenting with pictures that may also contain text (see Figures 26) actually produces highly reliable information about the values of the community in question through responses to our own page. The difference to classic fieldwork is of course that this happens without asking them why they liked a video, or what they didnt like about it, etc., which would be the traditional ethnographic or sociological questions.21 Certainly, people are not necessarily reading Blood Jewels artistic productions with the theoretical complexity with which its being produceda perennial issue of media and literary studiesbut such readings are possible and are manifest in some of the back comments and personal mail messages about our videos. The videos and comments thus operate on different subjective and intellectual levels, ranging from direct, emotive appreciation thats awesome pics and sound . . . cool image to a more sophisticated reading that appreciates how art

Post-Human Anthropology

19

FIGURE 8 Signature artwork posted by Blood Jewel in MySpace.

that is highly challenging and uncomfortable to contemplate can provoke critical thinking about power, violence, and sexuality.22 As an aside, one might note that this is actually key to the art of producing good media anyway; it is culturally and socially polyvalent. Finally, it must be said that the use of female bodiesthe gendered aspects of the sites aestheticmay be thought problematical. But while the site is obviously driven by my visual preferences, this is in the first place an artistic choice, not a scientific or philosophical one. Moreover, in aesthetic terms I am necessarily engaged with the visual canons of modernist culture where the male body is not normatively available either intellectually or even practically as a an object of static contemplation.23 Blood Jewel has worked with the French male-model Oliver on a series of photos showing him in a kilt, bound with chains, and heavily bloodied but the MySpace milieu is usually strongly heterosexual, or at least Blood Jewels fan-base is, and so this material has not played a prominent role in our postings.24

20

N. L. Whitehead

At the same time recent events have arguably caused a re-signification of the female body as a form of threatening weaponry, whether as torturers at Abu-Ghraib, or as martyr bomb-carriers, or active military personnel in United States combat zones, the erotics of military violence fully express our fetish of violence and power (Oliver 2008). Performative ethnography is precisely a public revelation of personal proclivity, but this also produces a set of experiences that are a fruitful ground for anthropological study because they involve the representation of sexuality and violence in a relatively uncharted cultural realm cyberspace and the counter-normative cultural worlds of Goth-Industrial music and art. A contextualization of personal desire and proclivity, such as described above, is exactly what is called for by the idea of making overt the ethnographers positionality, and this has often become no more than a rather formalistic exercise in sharing some minimal biographical details, rather than a discussion of subjective engagements. In the end, nobodys choice of scholarly project or informants is so scientific anyway; it is subjective and a pragmatic reflection of who with, and where, we feel we can achieve a given intellectual purpose. So participatory ethnography necessarily challenges us to demonstrate and discuss our social skills no less than our intellectual and artistic ones. But whatever the problems with such an emergent methodology we already know that the fig-leaf of scientific observation can no longer cover the phallus of ethnographic desire.

Post-human anthropology
The global cultural emergence of the post-human is a response to this situation, a convergence, both historical and intellectual, in thinking and feeling about the nature of identity and the form of experience. As mentioned before, the concept of identity has become highly problematic in anthropology, for in asking the question who is what?, if we have not been greeted with a recalcitrant silence,25 then we have received the reply that we are not who you think we are! In this light the categories of ethnological explanation are revealed as a way of creating scientific objects and not the start point for unraveling other experiential worlds.26 For many anthropologists working in Amazonia, this has also gone along with the realization that there are ontologies that lie beyond the human and which understand persons as subjectively and socially partible, divisible, and highly unstable (Descola and Palsson 1996; Fausto 2007; Viveiros de Castro 1998), just as Strathern (2005) demonstrated for Melanesia and Busby (1997) for South India.

Post-Human Anthropology

21

Shamanism itself seeks to intermittently stabilize these fluid ontologies through ritual action that expresses a deep knowledge of the cosmological rules for the transformation of beings between ontological states and for the creation of new experience and desire through the relational nature of historical identity. In this manner death and resurrection become the critical ritual skills that undergird a vision of all existence as both related (inter-connected) and of the cosmos as being structured by the historical pattern of being and becoming.27 In Amazonia we truly encounter partible persons (i.e., material beings whose identities are not fixed but dependent on the forms of sociality in which they are engaged). In turn, ideas of sociality derive from the critical ontological moments of birth, copulation, and death, which are the irreducible elements of existence itself. As a result of this ontological framework the forms of social engagement and socially constituted desire define the nature of material being, not the other way around. However, material form is an illusory guide to ontological condition so that the ability to negotiate the passage through death and resurrection becomes the means also to achieve ontological transformation, as the great war-chief of the Tupinamb Konyanbebe answered as he sat before a calabash of human flesh, I am a jaguar [and so] it tastes good . . . . (Whitehead and Harbsmeier 2008: 91). The historical structures and subjective processes of Western desire have, of course, been closely analyzed by various theorists, particularly Jacques Lacan, as mentioned above. However, elsewhere systems of magic and sorcery represent the articulation of desire (the naming/speaking of desire), which, unlike in Lacanian theory, simultaneously thereby constitute such articulation as a means for the realization of desire. Shamanic chant, song, and music thus fill up the originary lack found in Western forms of Lacanian desire.28 The construction of personhood in Amazonia thus bears on the question of the post-human for at least two key reasons. First, Amazonian ontologies thoroughly explore the instability of the human and animal, and this is a project to which we have turned in the last twenty years in the West with increasing enthusiasm. Westerners have extended human rights to animals and literally incorporated animal tissue and organs into their own bodies, even as the gargantuan political economy of pet-keeping and the search for a progressive eco-consciousness supplant or alter the meanings of intra-human interaction.29 Second, historical anthropology has come to realize that possibly in all times and cultures the idea of the uniqueness of the human has been only been intermittently present. Certainly, the notion of an irreducible human has been deployed to augment political power and functioned as a central notion in religion and spirituality. Notably,

22

N. L. Whitehead

such deployments have tended to be exclusionary, part of the process of the invention of state or civil societies of a certain kind and, as I will suggest below, this process continues as global capital development creates in all places zombi workers controlled by vampire masters producing for cannibal consumers. But one of the most striking examples of this process emerged in the conquest of America when the Spanish Council of the Indies orchestrated a debate in Seville during August 1550 to consider the proposition that the newly-found Indians were, or were not, actually human.30 Such a debate was not just academic because the outcome decided the legal, economic, and political status of the peoples of the New World; just as several centuries later the humanity of black slaves transported to the Americas was coded through notions of racial difference. In this sense the instability of the category of human is nothing new, nor is it universal or necessary. Within the Euro-American cultural tradition the historical encounter between colonially expanding Europe and the rest of the world challenged European thinking as to the nature of the human and how it might be defined. Initially, this was done without rupture to a medieval worldview in which Biblical accounts of human origins were adequate to explain human variety. But that did not last and the emergence of an enlightenment as to the rational order of the world and the place of a collective humanity within that ordered cosmos laid the basis for modernist frameworks of reason logic and science (Agamben 2003; Atlan and De Waal 2007; Badmington 2000). These frameworks of thinking have given us both an epistemology rooted in empiricism and a Cartesian self-conscious subject who occupies its center, from which the individual mind knows and acts on the world. This historical legacy in Western thought in turn underpins social and political theory as to the meaning and role of law, legal responsibility, and criminal justice, as well as the ideas of life and health as medical categories, the institutions of democracy and the exercise and defense of human rights.31a This discourse of the human is crowned by the creative human subject whose insight and inspiration become the motor of historical change and progress. These grand narratives of modernity have been critiqued and even abandoned in the last twenty years as the specter of post-modernity has come to represent increasing dissatisfaction with the consequences of this intellectual historical legacy. At the same time the limits of scientific forms of knowledge and the ethical issues its pursuit has engendered, the apparent intractability of cultural others in realizing their destiny as rational individualized subjects, and our own deep cultural pessimism as to the perfectibility of society or individuals

Post-Human Anthropology

23

FIGURE 9 Post-Human, http://www.myspace.com/humannomore

lead us to question what the human is and to ask if, as we pass beyond the moment of modernity, we have not also entered an age of the post-human as well?31b In other words, this is not just to ask how the categories of human, animal, machine, divinity might be unstable and shifting but also to ask the more fundamental question as to whether our current experience of being human is historically and culturally disjunctural, and, anyway, about to end. Reasons for thinking so include not just the way in which we have come to perceive the animal and mechanical as a mimesis of the human but the way in which our own subjective experience is now potentially disembodied through the burgeoning of cyber-spatial relationships and simultaneously re-embodied prosthetically, in medical technologies of biological and mechanical implant or substitution. Moreover, we simultaneously experience technological subjugation to a regime of body-as-machine. Our bodies as technological subjects are thus also dieted, nipped and tucked, sculpted, pieced, tattooed, marketed, pictured, clothed, tortured, and mutilated to establish an acceptable social identity. These suggestions have also been deployed artistically, in the same way as Blood Jewel was the vehicle for examining sexuality and violence, through the creation of the MySpace

24

N. L. Whitehead

FIGURE 10 Banner from the Trojan EVOLVE condom campaign.

site Post-Human. This is a personal page not a band page (a distinction important to MySpace usage), which works in a way akin to installation art. The relevance here is that the response has been highly laudatory to the themes of animal, machine, and human instability and hybridity, also underscoring the way in which the qualitative approach of anthropology may be no less effective in understanding mass-cultures than statistical survey-based methodologies. A secondary feature of the page is the emphasis on environmental toxicity and the medical creation of sexual monstrosity and suffering. The resonance of such normatively transgressive themes was far greater than I had anticipated.32 The post-human condition then is a reconfiguration, rather than erasure, of embodiment; however, it is a reconfiguration in which the human subject emerges episodically, almost as a cipher for a form of subjectivity rather than functioning as the boundary of, or necessary condition for, the experience of being human (see Haraway 1991; Hayles 1999). One of the most dynamic cultural fields for this unfolding process is cyber-space. Here digital subjectivities replace the hermeneutic of love and romance with the possibilities of multiple sexualized engagements with imaginatively-embodied others. The materiality of an off-line human body is supplanted by a no-less real on-line imaginative embodiment as diverse and perverse sexual subjects experience non-penetrative and new forms of sexuality. From the commercial chat-roomswhere the panopticon of the webcam permits a visual performance of body-dreams, fantasies and desiresto the carefully constructed cyber-beings that roam the worlds of gaming and socialsites such as MySpace we can encounter and participate in radically disembodied and novel forms of subjective experience. None of this relates to interactions between actual fleshy humans who have all but disappeared from such landscapes of desire and dreaming. Indeed, such fleshy humans turn out to be sexually toxic, requiring the wearing of prosthetic second skin, a condom every time. They may also be socially dangerous as well because anyone might turn out be a rapist, serial killer, or terrorist.

Post-Human Anthropology

25

FIGURE 11 The Human Element, Dow Chemicals ad campaign.

The advertisement for Trojan condoms currently running would have us believe. Indeed, in the lead slogan of the campaign we are enjoined to EVOLVE beyond our pathetic and tainted humanity. But the erasure of all things human, an evolution into a fully post-human condition is not only anticipated in such aesthetic and commercial spaces but is the ultimate fantasy of global capital. This is the politically irresistible reason why our subjectivities are being so thoroughly reconfigured. Again the reference is provided from the world of advertising where Dow Chemicals current campaignThe Human Elementfantasizes the human element, as being reduced to a new symbol of the periodic table, an interesting catalytic factor but clearly not a desiring or rebellious subject. In a similar vein this is also checkmate in the C. P. Snow-inspired debate on the two cultures of science and humanities, as the final solution to the reconciliation of science and humanism becomes the encapsulation of the human spark within the structures of technical knowledge. The plaintive music, sonorous narration, and empty global landscapes thus signal the end of time, the end of history, the end of humanity . . . and our own entry into a post-human age.

Notes
Received 22 March 2008; accepted 5 May 2008. I thank the members of Blood Jewel, Carol Siegel, Jonathan Hill, Peter Sigal, and Toma Longinovic for their valuable and thoughtful discussion of this project. Earlier versions of this article were read at the Department of Anthropology of Rice University, the

26

N. L. Whitehead

American Society for Ethnohistory meetings at William and Mary College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison for symposia on Sexuality & Violence organized by the Sexuality and Violence Research Circle of the Global Studies Institute and the Humanities Center-Mellon Foundation symposium on What is Human, the Latin American, Iberian, Caribbean Studies program lecture series. In particular, I thank my co-presenters for the Digital Subjectivities panel at the American Anthropological Association 106th annual meeting in Washington D.C., especially the organizers Jay Hasbrouck and Mike Wesch. Address correspondence to Neil L. Whitehead, Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA. E-mail: nlwhiteh@wisc.edu 1. Popular attitudes are reflected in the Wikipedia entry for safe sex: Safe sex is the practice of sexual activity in a manner that reduces the risk of infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Safe sex practices became prominent in the late 1980s as a result of the AIDS epidemic. Promoting safe sex is now a principal aim of sex education. From the viewpoint of society, safe sex can be regarded as a harm reduction strategy. The goal of safer sex is education and risk reduction . . . . . . . some sex educators recommend that barrier protection be used for all sexual activities which have the potential for disease transmission, such as manual penetration of the anal or vaginal cavities, or oral stimulation of the genitals. Sex by yourself, known as autoeroticism, solitary sexual activity is relatively safe. Masturbation, the simple act of stimulating ones own genitalia, is safe so long as contact is not made with other peoples discharged bodily fluids. However, some practices, such as self-bondage and autoerotic asphyxia, are made considerably more dangerous by the absence of people who can intervene if something goes wrong. Modern technology does permit some activities, such as phone sex and cybersex, that allow for partners to engage in sexual activity without being in the same room, eliminating the risks involved with exchanging bodily fluids. (My emphasis) Non-penetrative sex (also known as outercourse and dry sex) is sexual activity without vaginal, anal, and possibly oral penetration, as opposed to intercourse. The terms mutual masturbation and frottage are also used, but with slightly different emphases. NPS and outercourse are rather new terms, which is why such practices are sometimes still called intercourse. Abstinence is of course the ultimately safe option. 2. Two in five Internet users visited an adult site in August of 2005, according to tracking by comScore Media Metrix 87 percent of university students polled have virtual sex mainly using Instant Messenger, webcam, and telephone (Campus Kiss and Tell University and College Sex Survey. Released on 14 February 2006. CampusKiss.com. 17 February 2006). According to comScore Media Metrix, Internet users viewed over 15 billion pages of adult content in August 2005, Internet users spent an average of 14.6 minutes per day viewing adult content online, and there were 63.4 million unique visitors to adult websites in December of 2005, reaching 37.2 percent of the Internet audience. By the end of 2004, there were 420 million pages of pornography, and it is believed that the majority of these websites are owned by less than 50 companies. The pornography industry generates $12 billion dollars in annual revenuelarger than the combined annual revenues of ABC, NBC, and CBS. Of that, the Internet

Post-Human Anthropology

27

pornography industry generates $2.5 billion dollars in annual revenue (Family Safe Media. 10 January 2006. http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics). 3. See also the path-breaking work by Dwight Conquergood (1991, 1993) of the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University on Latino Gangs and the housing projects of Chicago. 4. Live Video http://www.livevideo.com/BloodJewel, Live Journal http://blood-jewel.livejournal.com/, Facebook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=512277980, Hatebook http://www.hatebook.org/profile.php, Vampire Freaks http://vampirefreaks.com/Kanaima 5. Such a dialogic and performative approach is also suggested by the work done in search of post-colonial ethnographic methods, in particular the work of Johannes Fabian (1990). 6. Christine Hines Virtual Ethnography (2000) does a valuable job of laying some of the methodological groundwork for this kind of study. However, unlike Hine, who suggests that virtual worlds are somehow not the real thing (2000: 65), the model here is of off-line and on-line contexts, all of which are of course real, even if of differing and changing significance. Historically, Hines work appeared before social networking sites, and many other aspects of on-line worlds, had been widely developed. 7. This situation then sets up a direct conflict between the project of cultural relativity and the presence of cultural values we deem non-progressive. For example, in a recent issue of the Anthropology News (March 2008, p.28), such a conflict is evident in a discussion of how anthropologists should react and think about gender violence in Papua New Guinea. 8. See the forthcoming volume edited by Peter Sigal and Neil Whitehead deriving from serial meetings at the American Society for Ethnohistory, Duke University and the University of Madison-Wisconsin. Here a range of case studies are used to illustrate the prevalence of this phenomenon and to suggest various critical reading and research strategies that might obviate the problem. 9. Currently airing on the Travel Channel, Living with the MekThe Adventures of Mark and Olly seems to have moved the ethnographic idiom firmly into the field of entertainment. Mark and Olly, an ex-soldier and journalist, respectively, thus perform as ethnographers through their extended residence, mimesis of cultural behavior, and the commitment to do no harm to their bemused hosts, the Mek villagers of Western Papua (Irian Jaya) the copy reads: Explorer Mark Anstice and travel journalist Olly Steeds must make extreme adjustments to spend four months living with the Mek tribe of West Papua, New Guinea, one of the last indigenous groups of farming hunter-gatherers in the world. 10. This is not an attempt to write a history of that music scene but rather to suggest how my understanding of it (accurate or not) was important in configuring my current ethnographic work. 11. The mass popularity of the fetish scene, originating in large part from the milieu of the disco and nightclub entertainment and the historical persistence of burlesque theater, is evidenced not just in the context of the night-life of most major American cities but also in such established contexts as Halloween, where fetishized nurses, teachers, cheer-leaders, cow-boys, cops and construction workers witches form the staple of costume rentals. 12. The full list of different site-types includes Games, Movies, Ringtones, Celebrity, Grade My Prof., Music, Schools, Chat Rooms, Horoscopes, Music Videos, Sports, Groups, Books, Impact, MySpaceIM, Latino, Karaoke, Jobs, News, MySpaceTV, Filmmaker, Mobile, Profile Editor, and Weather. Some of these are simply listings created by MySpace itself but others, as indicated, offer embedded html that

28

N. L. Whitehead

provides additional features such as music-players that track plays and downloads, or secure merchandising for both music tracks and band merchandise. Initial attempts to create a two-tier membership with, for example, bands paying for these additional features, were abandoned because users found ways to write their own html codes and customize their own pages. 13. http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=10252272 14. A performance given at the Memorial Union University of Wisconsin-Madison featured an extended fetish act by Yompabaan and Konduktor. Audience interviews and reactions, as this was part of a concert organized on the theme of art, war, and violence, were also filmed. 15. The basic rule is that if you post something then it will be used by others. In legal terms there is no obedience to copyright law at all, and notably those who complain that their graphics are being used by others do develop not successful sites. The milieu is one in which ownership of artistic output is continuously questioned as a principle and understood as antithetical to the spirit of artistic freedom. Although the MySpace administration would undoubtedly like to be able to enforce copyright laws, as this would enhance their value as a commercial site, in practice it is only the notion of obscenity that leads to punitive sanction (i.e., the erasure of ones account). 16. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1480148837033408167&q=source:009382334566 24143532&hl=en 17. Evasion of the MySpace Nazis, as the administration is colloquially termed amongst users, is both a necessary survival tactics but also a demonstration of ones technical abilities and radical, critical credentials. Each time we have something erased or banned this augments our credibility even as it is artistically very frustrating. 18. It is also in this sense that there is particular resonance for this essay in a journal called Identities, because too narrow a focus on issues of identitycritical though that has been to laying out a radical and progressive political agenda for anthropology as it emerges from its colonial originsmakes certain kinds of phenomena inaccessible, and anyway theoretically limits the project of anthropology in a highly artificial way. And I think this is really important given all the virtual worlds people are creating and participating in and about which anthropology has said so little. 19. Carol Siegel (2005) argues that such a deconstruction/reconstruction, territorialization/ re-territorialization of sexuality, necessarily entails the dissolution of traditional and conventional gender binarity. As Siegel suggests Goth-Industrial stars like Marilyn Manson detach(ed) gender from biological sex as part of a project of subversion, often in sophisticated and complex ways. See also an overview of Goth fetish performance and its increasing prevalence in Weinstock (2007). 20. The Post-Human web project (described below) is also an experiment in trans-gendering as it is me although she is a 31-year-old woman. 21. But perhaps there isnt a way to necessarily know what they liked and why? As Kurosawas Rashomon teaches us, no one can say what another man does, not even that man himself. 22. A good example of this was our release of the music video Poizone-Toxic Fetish http:// myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=4146731. The content is blatantly sexual but also uses imagery of landscape devastation by war and industrial pollution. Images of the fetish use of gas-masks and rubberized clothing then brings these themes together to suggest that erotic aesthetics and sexual responses can also be political statement, as Michel Foucault has taught us, sex is subversive if it leads to a different knowledge of your own body.

Post-Human Anthropology

29

23. Rather the male body is always fetishized in motion, as in sport, or as enactors of violence, as in war. The female body thus radically destabilizes such normative views when it mediates violence sexually. For the aesthetic and artistic project of Blood Jewel, this precisely becomes a way to try to provoke and service critical thinking about sex and violence. In turn, the Blood Jewel project contributes to the scholarly project of developing new approaches to interpreting sexuality and violence, as was very much the case with my earlier work on kanaim sorcery. 24. As Carol Siegel (personal communication) indicates, there is nonetheless a clear presence of male-bodies on display that break with the normative: . . . advertising beginning with the infamous Calvin Klein underwear ads and going on to the bruised and battered look of so many male models now, . . . photography and video for music promotion (like Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor bondage and torture imagery), set piece images of tortured/bound male bodies in film, S/M performance artists like Ron Athey and Bob Flannagan, the crossover work of women creating porn as if they were gay men for consumption by other women. . . . All of these things feed into the Goth/Industrial/Fetish scenes in San Francisco, New York, and even here in Portland (sometimes known as leather club capital of the US). . . . If you want to see tons of pix of beautiful boys in bondage with a decidedly Goth-slant, try a Laurell K. Hamilton fan site, like http://www.angelfire.com/realm/xandi/ Shifters.html where mostly women and girls create images of the male protagonists of Hamiltons best-seller novels heroines male submissives. 25. As other Amazonianists have pointed out (Clastres 1987; Mentore 2004), the silence of the native is intolerable even to a liberal progressive anthropological science, no less than the colonial regimes of the past. It is through dialogical engagement that we come to know who is what, and those asked such questions can fully appreciate what may be entailed in supplying the answers, because Foucaldian governmentality proliferates through the naming and categorization of its potential subjects. The other face to this intolerable silence of the other is of course our current enchantment by the idea of torture and the imagination of circumstances under which they must be made to speak. 26. In Sensuous Scholarship (1997) Paul Stoller challenges contemporary social theorists and cultural critics who use the notion of embodiment to critique Eurocentric and phallocentric predispositions in scholarly thought that considers the body primarily as a text that can be read and analyzed. Stoller argues that this attitude is in itself Eurocentric and is particularly inappropriate for anthropologists, who often work in societies in which the notion of text, and textual interpretation, is foreign. Instead, Stoller argues for the importance of understanding the sensuous epistemologies of many non-Western societies so that we can better understand the societies themselves and what their epistemologies have to teach us about human experience in general, or, one might add, the fallacy of a generalized human experience at all. 27. As Viveiros de Castro (1992) has argued, being and becoming, rather in the manner of Sartrean being in itself and for others, are thus separate ontological propositions and represent the outcome of time and choice rather than unchanging metaphysical structures of existence. Pierre Clastres (1987) made a similar argument concerning the political historical emergence of society and state in South America and the limits to power in human scale society; here it was Hegelian necessity rather than Kantian ontology that was at stake. 28. To paraphrase Bruce Dakowski on Malinowski; . . . the very word magic seems to recall a world of mysterious and unexpected possibility, partly because we hope to find in it the quintessence of primitive mans longings and wisdom; . . . . and that

30

N. L. Whitehead

whatever that is, it is worth knowing and stirs up the forces of hidden desires and dreams and reveals a lingering hope in miraculous possibility, a dormant belief in mans mysterious possibilities . . . (Off the Verandah, dir. Andre Singer, 1985). Embedded in the structures of consumerism Western desire is necessarily incomplete and envious of the primitive because the objects of desire are constituted through a cultural frame of permanent psychological lack and economic scarcity. 29. The humanity of animals in turn receives full expression as we acknowledge not just their political and legal status but also their perverse and non-reproductive sexualities, or biological exuberance as it is termed in a recent volume that documents trans-gendering, pederasty, and homosexuality amongst animals (Bagemihl 1999). 30. A chaplain and chronicler to Charles V, Juan Gins de Seplveda, had written that the Indians were . . .homunculi in whom hardly a vestige of humanity remains.. [they were] like pigs with their eyes always fixed on the ground. . . (quoted in Nash 2005: 46), and as a result fit only for conquest and dominion by the Spanish Crown. On behalf of the Dominican order, members of which had lodged complaints against these sentiments, Bartolom de Las Casas offered a lengthy rebuttal to all of Seplvedas writings. In fact, the debate was never face to face and Seplveda offered a twelve-point written rebuttal to Las Casas who in turn replied to these rebuttals. Here the matter rested, although such tensions were ever-present in Spanish colonial policy. 31.a. Such universalizing of the category of human then paradoxically leads to a depersonalization and deculturalization of the individual subject. This is very evident, for example, from the way in which the United Nations discourse on human rights is actually applied in refugee camps (Finnstrom 2008: 240; Malikki 1995: 378). 31.b. In the sense that the Great Killing of the twentieth century, from the trenches of the Somme, to the death camps of Poland and the churches of Rwanda, has not only led us to forlornly wonder where common humanity disappeared to in these desperate moments but also to have created in us a despair at our own capacity for in-humanity. Perhaps then there is actually a positive need for us to pass into post-humanity because the discourse of the human paradoxically led to only massdeath on an historically unprecedented scale. However, a cynical retreat into antihumanist nihilism, as has been popularly advocated by John Gray in his 2002 best-seller Straw Dogs is also possible. 32. Post-Humans blog contains text that has been revised for this publication, suggesting that the theoretical arguments are no-less successful, or at least do not disrupt the artistic message, among Post-Humans fans. Perhaps the best backcomment received to this blog was simply, Wow, Im gobsmacked!

References
Agamben, Giorgio 2003. The Open: Man and Animal. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Atlan, de Henri and Frans B. M. De Waal 2007. Les frontires de lhumain. Paris: Editions le Pommier. Aug, Marc 1995. Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. (Trans) John Howe London: Verso. Badmington, Neil (ed.) 2000. Posthumanism. New York: Palgrave. Bagemihl, Bruce 1999. Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. New York: St. Martins Press.

Post-Human Anthropology

31

Busby, Cecilia 1997. Permeable and partible persons: A comparative analysis of gender and body in South India and Melanesia. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 3 (2): 261278. Clastres, Pierre 1987. Society against the state: essays in political anthropology. Trans. Robert Hurley in collaboration with Abe Stein. New York: Zone Books. Clifford, James 1997. Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Harvard: Harvard University Press. Conquergood, Dwight 1991. Life in Big Red: Struggles and Accomodations in a Chicago Polyethnic Tenement. Working papers of the Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University. Conquergood, Dwight 1993. Homeboys and Hoods: Gang Communication and Cultural Space. Working papers of the Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University. Denzin, Norman K 2003. Performance Ethnography: Critical Pedagogy and the Politics of Culture. New York: Sage. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari 1983. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Descola, Philippe and Gisli Palsson 1996. Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives. London; New York: Routledge. Fabian, Johannes 1990. Power and Performance: Ethnographic Explorations Through Proverbial Wisdom and Theater in Shaba, Zaire. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. Fausto, Carlos 2007. Feasting on people: Eating animals and humans in Amazonia. Current Anthropology 48 (4): 497530. Freud, Sigmund 2003. The Uncanny. David McLintock (trans) with an introduction by Hugh Haughton. New York: Penguin Books. Finnstrom, Sverker 2008. Living with Bad Surroundings: War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Foucault, Michael 1990. The History of Sexuality. New York, NY: Vintage Press. Gray, John 2002. Straw Dogs. Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals. London: Granta Press. Haraway, Donna J. 1991 Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. New York: Routledge. Harbsmeier, Michael 1997. Spontaneous ethnographies: Towards a social history of travellers tales. Studies in Travel Writing 1: 216238. Harvey, Penelope and Peter Gow (eds.) 1994. Sex and Violence: Issues in Representation and Experience. London; New York: Routledge. Hayles, N. Katherine 1999. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Hine, Christine 2000. Virtual Ethnography. London: Sage Publications. Kleinman, Arthur, Veena Das, and Margaret Lock 1997. Social Suffering. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Lacan, Jacques 1982. Ecrits. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co. Lassiter, Luke Eric 2006. Collaborative Ethnography Matters. Anthropology News (47:5): 2021. Malkki, Lisa H. 1995. Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu in Tanzania. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Marcus, George E. and Michael M. J. Fischer 1999. Anthropology as Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. McClintock, Anne Forthcoming. Paranoid Empire: Specters from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. In Ethnopornography. Peter Sigal and Neil L. Whitehead, eds. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

32

N. L. Whitehead

Mentore, George 2004.The Glorious Tyranny of Silence and the Resonance of Shamanic Breath. In Neil L. Whitehead and Robin Wright, eds. In Darkness and Secrecy. The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Pp. 157179. Nash, Elizabeth 2005. Seville, Cordoba, and Granada: A Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press. Oliver, Kelly 2008. Women as Weapons of War: Iraq, Sex and the Media. Calcutta: Seagull Books. Osterweil, Ara 2004. Andy Warhols Blow Job: Toward a Recognition of the Pornographic Avant-garde In Porn Studies. Linda Williams (ed.). Durham: Duke University Press. Pp. 432460. Siegel, Carol 2005. Goths Dark Empire Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Stoller, Paul 1997. Sensuous Scholarship. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Strathern, Marilyn 2005. Kinship, Law and the Unexpected: Relatives are Always a Surprise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Trexler, Richard C 1995. Sex and Conquest: Gendered Violence, Political Order, and the European Conquest of the Americas. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Viveiros de Castro, E. 1998. Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4 (3): 469488. Weinstock, Jeffrey A. 2007. Gothic Fetishism. In Goth: Undead Subculture. Lauren Goodlad and Michael Bibby, eds. Durham: Duke University Press. Pp. 375397. Whitehead, Neil L 2004. Violence. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press. Whitehead, Neil L 2002. Dark Shamans. Kanaim? and the Poetics of Violent Death. Durham: Duke University Press. Whitehead, Neil L. and Michael Harbsmeier (eds.) 2008. Hans Stadens True History. An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil. Dirham and London: Duke University Press.