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Message posted on 30/05/2024

Postdigital Intimacies Speaker Series (online)


A series of events presented by the Postdigital Intimacies research cluster in the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University

JUNE 3-6, 2024

Register now! el_menu=8706&eventID=1868

Join us for a week-long series of online events (3rd-6th June) exploring what is uncanny, strange, and other in relation to todays digital, and postdigital, intimacies. The talks in this event take as their starting point the current context of our seemingly post-Covid-19 reintegration and disintegration, and the apparent return to normal after a prolonged period of deep digitalisation, not to mention the ways in which the digital has come to mediate and, at times, regulate, our most intimate lives, with regard to work, health, relationships, domestic space, and more. We explore, in this context, the expansion of technological surveillance capitalism, disinformation and misinformation shaping how we feel and engage in the world, how make sense of our bodies, and (dis)connect with others, and the ways in which these encounters are simultaneously strange and familiar. Indeed, current questions over notions of truth, agency, and authenticity are, in todays postdigital cultures, just as likely to lead to violence, polarisation, and the annihilation of marginalised people.

Following both Lauren Berlant and Shaka McGlotten then, we use intimacies in a (post)digital context to denote contacts and encounters, from the ephemeral to the enduring, made possible by digital and networked means and as a vast assemblage of ideologies, institutional sites, and diverse sets of material and semiotic practices that exerts normative pressures on large and small bodies, lives, and worlds (McGlotten, 2013; 7).

The speakers in this series reflect on the uncanny and familiar in such postdigital intimacies. Collectively, we ask how these contexts generate and, at times, unravel intimacies, as relationalities, connectivities, and networks, that emerge in and through humans, events, technologies, animals, objects, and emotions. In doing so, we start from the assumption that intimacy itself must be thought about differently to take account of the messiness and ambiguities of these connections.

Digital intimacies and the Queer Geographies of Encounter Dr Regan Koch, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Director of the City Centre, Queen Mary University of London, UK 3rd June, 4-5.30pm BST

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. Berlants 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.

Under Cover of Niceness: Deepening White Supremacy through Wellness, Crypto & Hyper Segregation Dr Jessie Daniels, Professor of Sociology, Hunter College, USA 4th June, 4-5.30pm BST

The conventional way of understanding white supremacy is one that relies on a lens of Othering extremists as incomprehensible miscreants to ordinary, nice people. Contrary to this, I explore the way the very idea of niceness serves as a kind of cover, a Trojan Horse if you will, for the political and social goals of white supremacy often in very gendered ways. In wellness culture, often dominated by white women, there are repeated efforts to eliminate social inequality from view by focusing on light and love inside often all-white spaces like yoga studios and retreat centers. In the world of cryptocurrencies, often dominated by white men, there are repeated claims that moving away from central banking (controlled by globalists an antisemitic dog whistle) will solve the worlds problems from a supposedly colorblind vantage point that relies only on math, configured here as nice rather than overtly political. The endpoint of both wellness and crypto is hyper segregation in geographic space, whether through gated communities or apartheid states.

Who am I without the things that are familiar to me?" Zea Asis, artist and author of Strange Intimacies 5th June, 11am-12.30pm BST

In this talk, Asis reflects on her own process writing the zine Strange Intimacies during the pandemic, which she collaborated on with two other artists. As Asis first book of essays, Strange Intimacies is about a young woman's coming-of-age in the Philippines as bound to the necessity of movement, physical, emotional and intellectual, which becomes the impetus for the constant discovery of selves, past and present. Subtitled Essays on dressing up and consumption, Asis writes this is what it means to be ontologically insecure: To live life as if already dead, or in the cusp of it. It is a time were forced to evaluate, Who am I without the things that are familiar to me? and grapple with the unsteadiness that comes from the drudging perpetual reconciliation of things that once were and how they ought to be now. Through acts of consumption and romantic interludes, across thrift spaces, office spaces, and streets, Asis captures a womanhood that refuses romanticism, and instead revels in the interweaving of grit and grace necessary for contemporary survival.

Asis will speak also to her own experience we as a zine maker in the Philippines, thinking through the 'strange' as it applies to how writers and publishers have created their own paths, outside of mainstream avenues of publishing, to reach their audience and create a circular community of readers, artists, and writers.

Vanishing Act - An Ethnography of Digitalization and the Disappearance of Printed News Dr Anne Kaun, Professor of Media and Communication Studies, Department of Media and Communication Studies, Sdertrn University, Sweden 6th June, 10-11.30am BST

This presentation engages with digitalization through the lens of disappearance, challenging the prevailing narrative of digital emergence and transformation. Guided by Jean Baudrillard's idea that concepts emerge when things begin to vanish, the study focuses on the disappearance of printed newspapers as a case study. There are two main aims: first, to ethnographically document the decade-long shift in news delivery from the perspectives of readers and producers; second, to theoretically understand the role of disappearance in the digitalization process, exploring how experiences of loss shape the emerging media landscape. The research questions delve into the experiences of newspaper distributors, producers, and readers in the face of disappearing print media, as well as the influence of this disappearance on new distribution formats and media practices. The presentation contributes to journalism studies by addressing the overlooked aspect of newspapers materiality and distribution shifts. Additionally, it adds to the literature on the role of technology for social and cultural change by exploring loss and disappearance alongside emergence. Methodologically, the presentation builds on material gathered through ethnographic methods to study industry shifts and audience experiences. The aim is to nuance the understanding of the interplay between disappearance and emergence in the digitalization process.

Register now! el_menu=8706&eventID=1868

Dr Lindsay Balfour Assistant Professor Research cluster: Postdigital Intimacies Centre for Postdigital Cultures Coventry University

@LindsayAnneB | LinkedIn

Recent work:

FemTech: Intersectional Interventions in Womens Digital Health (Palgrave, 2024) Postdigital Intimacies for Online Safety The Digital Future of Hospitality (Palgrave, 2023)

TimesUp for Siri and Alexa: Sexual Violence and the Digital

Domestic Womens health could be so much more than period trackers

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Queen's Award for Enterprise International Trade 2022

Ranked in the top 50% of UK universities for research power Times Higher Education analysis of REF 2021

Joint top Modern University for Career Prospects Guardian University Guide 2022

Top 30 in the World for International Students (ratio) QS World University Rankings 2024


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Any views or opinions expressed within this e-mail are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Coventry University.

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