One of the tropes of these early years of the twenty-first century is that of the avatar, a virtual representation of a human being used for entertainment, educational, technical, or scientific purposes. The avatar is a product of digital culture, but its origins are coeval with those of the human being and its evolution is affected by material conditions and the level of technology currently achieved by a given society. The origin of the word “avatar” has a spiritual connotation: It was associated with Hinduism and used to describe a deity who took a terrestrial form. More generally, however, whether in terms of religion or computing, we could define the avatar as a surrogate, a body—real or virtual—that replaces another.

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