Living (in) cities of the past: time travel in Second Life

The virtual world Second Life invites residents to plan, build and maintain their own social geographies. In this article, I draw on data gathered during a multi-year ethnographic study to explore the intersection between memory, nostalgia, place and belonging in Second Life. The article focuses on two packages of land, or ‘sims’, owned and designed by a single Second Life resident who is one of the most dedicated heritage creators. The 1920s Berlin Project and Time Portal are both popular sims in which physical, historical, locations are recreated and opened to the public to visit, rent commercial or domestic property and engage in the 1920s role play. These sims demand different types of historical engagement. Together, they offer a complex and nuanced portrait of the way Second Life recreates cities of the past.