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Annual Anthropology Lecture

May 30, 2023
Old Staff Common Room, Lanyon Building, Queen's University Belfast
17:00 - 18:30

Professor Annelin Eriksen, University of Bergen, The Kinning of AI: Ethnographies of Technoscientific Immortality Projects in the US


In this lecture Professor Eriksen will present her current ethnographic work on transhumanism and technoscientific immortality projects in the US, highlighting the digital variants of eternal life ranging from online companions and avatars to projects of mind-cloning and mind-upload. The case of Bina48, the African American humanoid created by the Terasem movement, is presented as the main case from which to outline a theory of the transhuman. Professor Eriksen looks at the transhuman capacity for the social, more specifically; the capacity for becoming family. She argues that whereas the blood relationship was, and often still is, seen as the primary cultural construct of American kinship, there is a detectible shift, particularly visible among digital immortalists and transhumanists, towards the notion that “minds are deeper than matter”, as opposed to “blood is thicker than water”. She considers whether this shift is an indication of a more general social development in the US in the age of digital sociality.


Annelin Eriksen is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Bergen. She is the PI of the five-year project “Technoscientific immortality” funded by the Research Council of Norway. She has published extensively on religion, gender and cultural change, and received the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters Prize for outstanding research in the Humanities and Social Sciences in 2017.

Selected publications:

Eriksen, A. (2008). Gender, Christianity and change in Vanuatu: An Analysis of Social Movements in North Ambrym. Routledge.

Eriksen, A., & Rio, K. (2017). Demons, devils, and witches in Pentecostal Port Vila: On changing cosmologies of evil in Melanesia. Pentecostalism and Witchcraft: Spiritual Warfare in Africa and Melanesia, 189-210.

Eriksen, A., Blanes, R. L., & MacCarthy, M. (2019). Going to Pentecost: An Experimental Approach to Studies in Pentecostalism (Vol. 7). Berghahn Books.

Eriksen, A. (2021). The Human Version 2.0: AI, humanoids, and immortality. Social Analysis, 65(1), 70-88.

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School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics
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