Policing the Fluff: The Social Construction of Scientistic Selves in Otherkin Facebook Groups

  • Devin Proctor The George Washington University
Keywords: STS, Facebook, Otherkin, lay science, ethnography

Abstract

The Otherkin are a group of people who identify as other-than-human. Primarily gathering in online spaces, they discuss and debate the origins and parameters of this identification and try to make sense of their extraordinary experiences. This article traces how the Otherkin deploy scientific facts and theories during this process, arriving at Otherkin science, a carefully curated compilation of abstract physics, psychology, metaphysics, and ancient belief that renders other-than-human identification thinkable in a contemporary Western paradigm. Drawing on five years of ethnographic engagement with the Otherkin, this article examines this social knowledge construction through the processes of “questioning” and “grilling” on Otherkin Facebook groups. In continuously negotiating their own identities through scientific reasoning, they create what I am calling scientistic selves—frameworks of identification created by lay scientists whose adherence to specific scientific facts and theories is fundamental to their continued existence.

Author Biography

Devin Proctor, The George Washington University

Devin Proctor is a PhD candidate in anthropology at The George Washington University. His work explores the relationships between media & technology, knowledge production, and subjectivity, drawn from five years of ethnographic engagement with the Otherkin community.


Published
2018-09-29
Section
Research Articles