Cyborg in Idology Studies: Symbiosis of Animating Humans and Machines

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Cyber idols including Virtual YouTubers are accessible enough to be adored by millions of people worldwide and complicated enough to warrant a multidisciplinary discussion. They are animated computer images, but they are also much more than commodified computer imagery. Through everyday practices, we animate our worlds into existence and our worlds animate us. To show the symbiotic nature of this process, I use cyborg as a theoretical framework to explore transculturally the historical and contemporary relations between technology and idolatry from Renaissance clockwork saints and Tokugawa-period clockwork deities to contemporary robots and cyber idols.

Cyborg opens up cyber idols to new epistemological considerations by rethinking this history from a symbiotic perspective, offering theoretical insights beyond materialism, commodity fetishism, techno-animism, and ontological dualism. This chapter also shows that the meaningful relations fans have with cyber idols are a part of a larger history of coexisting and entangling with animated technology to create, animate, express, and exist in this world and in the imaginations of the worlds beyond. At the core of this approach is thus the idea of life: the universal traces of animism and the degrees of life or liveliness that we co-create with our things technologically. This chapter is not about what technological artifacts in idolatry and pop idolatry represent, but what we, together, bring into life. It is about the process of co-producing life between humans and nonhumans when we move and animate things we worship and love.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdology in Transcultural Perspective
Subtitle of host publicationAnthropological Investigations of Popular Idolatry
EditorsAoyagi Hiroshi, Patrick W Galbraith, Mateja Kovacic
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)9783030826772
ISBN (Print)9783030826765
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Cyborg in Idology Studies: Symbiosis of Animating Humans and Machines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this