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  • 1.
    Bäcke, Maria
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education.
    Decolonizing Cyberspace2009In: Cyberculture and New Media / [ed] Francisco J. Ricardo, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009, p. 189-196Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Increasingly important information and communication technologies (ICT) play a significant role – sometimes as an image, sometimes as a tool –  for authors like Ellen Ullman, Melissa Scott, Jeanette Winterson and Pat Cadigan. In their novels they explore patterns of power, hierarchy and colonization through the destabilization of space and transgress boundaries in the space they create. By making connections between post-colonial/post-structural/post-modern theory and technology, I explore the authors’ reasons for making these transgressions.

    Édouard Glissant explains how computers, and computer-mediated text, can generate a ‘‘space within the indeterminacy of axioms” and how this opens up possibilities to create a space where imaginative and ideological liberation is possible. Glissant’s idea of indeterminacy grows out of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s discussion about space and how it is structured. The virtual, seemingly topographical, space of the Internet has been described, on the one hand, as an information highway (striated space) and, on the other, as a web, where it is possible to surf (smooth space). I connect these concepts to the novels and explore to what extent the authors use these strategies to de-colonize the fictional, digital space their characters inhabit.

  • 2.
    Bäcke, Maria
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education.
    "Freedom for Just One Night": The Promise and Threat of Information and Communication Technologies2007In: Women Writers.net, ISSN 1535-8402535-8402Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Traditionally technology has been a male area of interest; not many novels have been written about technology from a female perspective. It has largely been true that, as Barbara Page puts it, women often have an aversion ‘to computer technologies and programs thought to be products of masculinist habits of mind’ (112). However, with a broadening perspective and use of information and communication technologies (ICT), a growing number of women also take interest in, advantage of – sometimes even change – the technology to meet their own requirements. Reflecting this shift, Jeanette Winterson’s The PowerBook and Pat Cadigan’s children’s book Avatar are two examples of novels where ICT play a major role. That women often see the benefits of a less regulated space provided by the technology is explored in these two novels. Édouard Glissant explains how computers can generate a ‘‘space within the indeterminacy of axioms” (84, my italics). According to Glissant this indeterminacy opens up possibilities and “creates the opportunity for an infinite sort of conjunction, in which science and poetry are equivalent. […] The poetic axiom, like the mathematical axiom, is illuminating because it is fragile and inescapable, obscure and revealing. In both instances the prospective system accepts the accident and grasps that in the future it will be transcended” (85). The indeterminacy is destabilizing, and together science and literature create an imaginary space where imaginative (hence ideological) liberation is possible.

  • 3.
    Bäcke, Maria
    Blekinge Institute of Technology.
    Make-Believe and Make-Belief in Second Life Role-Playing Communities2012In: Convergence. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, ISSN 1354-8565, E-ISSN 1748-7382, Vol. 18, no 1, p. 85-92Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This feature article applies the concepts of ‘make-believe’ and ‘make-belief’ formulated by performance theorist, Richard Schechner, in a study of two role-play communities, Midian City and Gor in the online 3D environment Second Life. With make-believe fantasy role-play at their core, members of the two communities negotiate the social and political norms, the goals of the com- munity and as well as the boundaries of the virtual role-play. The article explores the innovative forms of interaction at play in these negotiation processes, using (cyber)ethnographic methods and the analysis of various textual sources, Goffman’s theories of social performance as well as various types of performance discussed by Schechner and Auslander. The innovative forms of interaction are analysed in the light of the new technology and as performances and make-belief strategies directed towards realizing performative utopias, towards influencing the direction in which leaders and residents of this digital context want the role-play to develop, and towards shaping the emer- gent social and cultural rules and the political framework of the role-play. 

  • 4.
    Bäcke, Maria
    Blekinge Tekniska högskola .
    Power Games: Rules and Roles in Second Life2011Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This study investigates how the members of four different role-playing communities on the online platform Second Life perform social as well as dramatic roles within their community. The trajectories of power influencing these roles are my main focus. Theoretically I am relying primarily on performance scholar Richard Schechner, sociologist, Erving Goffman, and post-structuralists Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felìx Guattari. My methodological stance has its origin primarily within literature studies using text analysis as my preferred method, but I also draw on the (cyber)ethnographical works of T.L. Taylor, Celia Pearce, and Mikael Jakobsson. In this dissertation my focus is on the relationship of the role-player to their chosen role especially in terms of the boundary between being in character, and as such removed from "reality," and the popping out of character, which instead highlights the negotiations of the social, sometimes make-belief, roles. Destabilising and problematising the dichotomy between the notion of the online as virtual and the offline as real, as well as the idea that everything is "real" regardless of context, my aim is to understand role-play in a digital realm in a new way, in which two modes of performance, dramatic and social, take place in a digital context online.

  • 5.
    Bäcke, Maria
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Department of Languages.
    Self, Setting, and Situation in Second Life2009In: Literary Art in Digital Performance: Case Studies in New Media Art and Criticism / [ed] Francisco J. Ricardo, New York: Continuum, 2009, p. 109-142Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Linden Lab, the company behind the online world Second Life (SL), invites multiplic- ity with slogans like “Your World. Your Imagination.”1 Yet many SL residents’2 profiles give evidence of adjustment to group narratives or norms in various social spaces inside the world. They seem to favor already established social and cultural conventions when creating an online identity; hence they also adjust to already existing hierarchies. I argue that residents in SL recreate social orders and power structures similar to ones already existing outside SL, even though they are of course under no obligation to do so. In that sense social and cultural patterns are reproduced and in some cases even amplified. My aim here is to trace social dynamics evident in three groups within this digital space and my hypothesis is that the rules of these social spaces then function as a foundation and guideline for identity formation, and in fact almost seem to prescribe a certain way of acting or behaving. Two of the groups have a clear role-playing profile, based on books and movies, whereas role-playing is not required, although possible, in the third group. All of them are thus removed from the lifeworld by constituting either purely fictive or, conversely, historical constructs, but they can nevertheless provide clues to how the residents think in an environment that is not primarily “real life” based, and in which anything, even a utopia, can be possible. By reading group charters and profile descriptions found in the SL search engine, and studying articles and blogs functioning either as group information channels or journals for individuals in each community, I examine the motivations and power structures driving avatar and online identity construction in role-playing communities, with a focus on the interac- tion between the overarching “state” power, the Linden Lab, the three communities, their respective role-models, and the rules that govern them, as well as the individuals that are a part of them. 

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