A Virtual Village

A Virtual Village

A Virtual Village (called by the pseudonym "Arampur") provides an ideal setting to introduce undergraduates to North India because it offers many features both common and unique to rural life. With the village as a setting, this project seeks not only to introduce students to Indian rural culture and society but also to invite a more general discussion of issues of cultural representation and cross-cultural understanding. Its populace (almost 5000) reflects the caste, class, religious, and linguistic diversity of the area. The village encompasses a wide range of interesting cultural, historical, and religious sites such as a fifteenth-century mausoleum, numerous Sufi tombs, and temples devoted to a variety of gods and goddesses. Arampur also demonstrates how Indian villages exist not as isolated islands but integrated into other communities. Although residents share a common set of stories regarding the past of their village that demonstrate a distinct identity, they also maintain social and economic relationships within a constellation of neighboring villages, the district capital, and the city of Banaras.

The website is structured by a series of images that allow students to move through the village and investigate a variety of sites connected with life in Arampur. A virtual trip to the bazaar, for example, leads to a photographic image of the bazaar with hidden links connected to particular features of interest. With a click of a mouse, students are able to access other images (including 360 degree panoramas using QuickTime VR technology) and more complete ethnographic descriptions as well as English translations of Hindi and Urdu signs and advertisements. Here the website relies upon interviews with residents of the village to present information about particular sites. As a pedagogical tool, the website not only serves to demonstrate aspects of North Indian rural life but also enables students to work independently through virtual fieldwork and independent investigation.

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Future Possibilities

  • Publish the site on CD ROM
  • Add imagery to the about and topics section
  • Update the site to reflect recent changes in the village

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Peter Gottschalk: Author
Matt Schmalz: Author
Wolasi Konu: Graphical Designer
Anne Loyer: Graphical Designer
Rob DeMeulemeester: Content Provider
Matthew Elson: Content Provider
Mauricio Fuentes: Content Provider
Luis Henao: Content Provider
Allyn Wilkinson: Content Provider
Will Gladstone: Programmer

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At a Glance

Matt Schmalz
Peter Gottschalk

Social Sciences


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Technical Requirements