A poster with luminous pink palm trees in the background, a book cover reading In the Land of the Unreal, above a face wearing a headset over the eyes. A photo in a round bubble is of a woman with curly shoulder length brown hair, against pink grass. The right bottom corner has her name, Lisa Messeri, and logos of the Technologies in Practice and Antropologforeningen cover the bottom of the poster.

Lisa Messeri, In the Land of the Unreal

Lisa Messeri, author of Placing Outer Space, has published a new book, titled In the Land of the Unreal. It came out in March, with Duke University Press. On Wednesday 10th April 14:00 CET, you are invited to join us for an online (also in person) book talk from Lisa.
In the book, Lisa takes us through her ethnography of an LA-based Virtual Reality community, who convened around VR in the belief that it could remedy society’s ills. Full blurb below.
You can read the Intro here
If you would like to join us in person, we will be meeting in Room 2A08, IT University of Copenhagen, Rued Langgaards Vej 7, 2300 København.
To join the meeting online, please register with the following link, which will send you a confirmation email for your calendar.

In the Land of the Unreal

“In the mid-2010s, a passionate community of Los Angeles-based storytellers, media artists, and tech innovators formed around virtual reality (VR), believing that it could remedy society’s ills. Lisa Messeri offers an ethnographic exploration of this community, which conceptualized VR as an “empathy machine” that could provide glimpses into diverse social realities. She outlines how, in the aftermath of #MeToo, the backlash against Silicon Valley, and the turmoil of the Trump administration, it was imagined that VR—if led by women and other marginalized voices—could bring about a better world. Messeri delves into the fantasies that allowed this vision to flourish, exposing the paradox of attempting to use a singular VR experience to mend a fractured reality full of multiple, conflicting social truths. She theorizes this dynamic as unreal, noting how dreams of empathy collide with reality’s irreducibility to a “common” good. With In the Land of the Unreal, Messeri navigates the intersection of place, technology, and social change to show that technology alone cannot upend systemic forces attached to gender and race.”

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