Intimacy and its (technological) discontents: 3 theses while social distancing | Nishant Shah, Us(c)hi Reiter, Valie Djordjevic

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Created at 8. Jun. 2020

by servus

The most famous critique of social distancing started in anthropology circles once we had officially entered the Age of the Novel Corona Virus. We are just ‘physically distancing’, these critics said, not ‘socially distant’. It is a call that has been taken up by many techno-euphoric savants who have lauded the role of open and digital technologies to foster, extend, and reshape human intimacy in times where touch is a pathology and proximity is under scrutiny. The rallying cry is that ‘We shall be together’, and despite these contagious times, we shall establish new forms of being intimate. In this valorization of intimacy, and especially the technological expansion of it, there is a romantic acceptance of intimacy as both desirable and fundamental to human forms of being. In this 3-part talk, I take a pause from this endless yearning for intimacy, by thinking through the structures of privilege, the gendered inequity, and the conditions of surveillance that intimacy presumes in our technological life. I draw from feminist discourse, postcolonial theory, and digital cultures to interrupt the narrative of intimacy, and instead propose an alternative register of togetherness and sociality.

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