Globalization and Virtuality: Analytical Problems Posed by the Contemporary Transformation of African Societies



In response to the need for further conceptual development in the field of anthropological globalization studies, this article concentrates on the concept of virtuality, arguing that this constitutes one of the key concepts for a characterization and understanding of the forms of globalization in Africa. The article first defines virtuality and globalization and provisionally indicates their theoretical relationship. The problematic heritage of a locality-obsessed anthropological tradition (as explored in the article) then provides the analytical framework within which virtuality makes an inspiring topic. The transition from theory to empirical case studies is made by examining the problem of meaning in the African urban environment. Finally, an ethnographic situation is invoked (urban puberty rites in present day Zambia) which illustrates particular forms of virtuality as part of the globalization process.