Pokemon Go and the 'oddly bodily' geographies of encounter in Sarajevo

Authors: Dino Kadich*, University of Cambridge - Geography
Topics: Cultural Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: digital games, Bosnia, Nancy, intimacy, sensual, ethnography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 7, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Our screens, omnipresent, are sensual devices: they force us to manipulate by touch, touch others, be touched. The sudden appearance of the Pokemon Go beta during fieldwork conducted in Sarajevo in the summer of 2016 underscored the sensuality of these devices, as young people found themselves on the streets and in parks interacting with each other and the urban worlds imagined by the game’s programmers. This paper thinks with Larisa Jašarević’s work on wellness, illness, and the extensities of (not) touching, which draws on Jean-Luc Nancy’s corpus on the body and sensation. I stroll with young men on the streets of Sarajevo through (and past) an algorithmically-generated list of landmarks and into a world of “contagious intimacies” and bodily extensities that forged new solidarities and sustained personhoods that otherwise seemed impossible (so strong was the pull of other bodies, other extensities). In the intimate and sensuous spaces of masculinity constituted within and alongside this augmented reality game, I locate practices of care and love in an ethics of belonging that staked claims in urban space for those who, having remained in the country, no longer felt they belonged there. These young people’s experiences, then, speak to broader questions of the making and unmaking of geopolitics through intimate encounters.

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