STRANGE/R/NESS: Digital Intimacies and the Queer Geographies of Encounter

Strange/r/ness: Intimacies in Uncanny Worlds
Public lectures / seminars

Monday 03 June 2024

04:00 PM - 05:30 PM

Location

Online

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Event details

This event is part of a series hosted by the Postdigital Intimacies research cluster at Coventry University's Centre for Postdigital Cultures, offering a week-long online exploration of the uncanny, strange, and 'other' aspects of today's digital and postdigital intimacies.

Other events include: 

Biography

Dr Regan Koch, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Director of the City Centre, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Abstract

Intimacy often refers to deeply personal desires and attachments. It is generally understood to be a private matter that is nonetheless governed by social conventions and heterosexual norms. However, as Lauren Berlant (1998, 282) highlighted, the ‘inwardness’ of intimacy comes with a corresponding publicness – an aspiration for something shared, even if largely unspoken: “Intimacy builds worlds; it creates spaces and usurps places meant for other kinds of relation.”

Queer theory emerged, in part, as an orientation towards this kind of world-building. It identifies and affirms relationships and spaces that break with convention, foregrounding LGBTQ+ experiences in an aspiration to create wider publics where desires and sexualities are emancipated from oppressive norms and structures. Berlant’s work did this in part by extending the very notion of intimacy, understanding it not simply as romance or sex, but as a wider epistemology for thinking about social connection.

Over the past decade, the ways intimacy is pursued and practised have been radically reshaped by digital technologies. New kinds of devices, software and platforms have brought novel forms of encounter for sex, dating, friendship, entertainment and sharing resources (Koch & Miles, 2021). LBGTQ+ communities are often at the forefront of such changes, driven by the necessity of being marginalised or excluded from the typical spaces of intimacy, and in pursuit of the pleasures and affordances it can bring. In this talk, I will reflect critically reflect upon these new technologically mediated worlds to examine new, queer geographies of encounter which deserve exploration given their far-reaching implications for LGBTQ+ lives and wider society.