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Updated: September 24, 2022

This essay is an ethnographic exploration of Star Trek fandom. Rather than the more common textual analyses of the program, this article examines the history and practice of the fans themselves, on computer networks, at conventions and in tourism, in "Starfleet" fan clubs and in fan literature. All these fan activities construct and add to the alternative universe of Star Trek while also connecting it with the present. At a time when scholars are finding religion in nonconventional locations, I argue that Star Trek fandom is one of these locations. Star Trek fandom involves a sacralization of elements of our culture, along with the formation of communities with regularized practices that include a "canon" and a hierarchy. Star Trek fandom is also associated with a popular stigma, giving fans a sense of persecution and identity common to active religious groups.

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