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Archaeology and Material Culture

This weekend 5000 people have crowded a Chicago hotel to celebrate anime at the Anime Midwest Convention: Sailor Moon, Naruto, and Vampire Knights wander hallways amidst reflective conversations about Ghost in the Shell and shared contempt for most of what is playing the local cinema.  The crowd in Chicago is among numerous such fan conventions gathering circles of the most committed followers united in their passion for manga, gaming, sci-fi, comics, cosplay, and assorted other fandom niches.  These conventions bring together collectives crafting a community united by like-minded passions for genres (e.g., anime), popular forms (e.g., comics), or certain franchises (e.g., Stargate).  Such 21st-century fan communities are increasingly well-networked in cyberspace, so perhaps all conventions really do is push such communities momentarily into physical space.   Yet those gatherings have in many ways been absolutely critical to the explosion of fandom and geek subculture…

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