It feels like love: Romance scam and digitally mediated spaces of the intimate

Authors: Jasmine Truong*,
Topics: Social Geography, Gender
Keywords: Critical digital geographies, intimacy, non-human, emotions
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This project draws attention to the ways in which intimate spaces become increasingly mediated through screens (Dating Apps), 3D environments (virtual reality sex), and humanoid materialities (sex dolls, increasingly artificial intelligent sex robots). I depart from victims of romance scam who looked for a partner online. Increasingly, fake profiles on dating sites scam money through feigning intimate intentions, also in Switzerland and Germany. While some victims become misled by (less privileged) humans (Wernz & Ulli, 2018), there are also techno-capitalist firms that emotionally seduce their victims through computer programs (Newitz, 2015).
Engaging with emotional geographies, I am interested in how the emotional intimate becomes increasingly entangled with and recast through the digital (see also Longhurst, 2016) and the global (Mountz & Hyndman, 2006). While Cockayne, Leszczynski, and Zook (2017) recently argue that the digital extends the spaces of intimacy, I particularly seek to deepen our understanding of how these extended geographies of intimacies reconfigure human-nonhuman relations emotionally and (de-)stabilise power relations along lines of race, gender, and sexuality among others.
This project contributes to a deeper conversation between digital geographies and emotional geographies. On the one hand, it seeks to advance the digital geographies with the consideration of the global intimate. On the other hand, it thinks the geographies of emotions beyond the immediately proximate and beyond the exclusively human. The more specific and primary aim, however, is to offer empirical material to the burgeoning but increasingly growing scholarly discussions of (nonhuman and) digitally mediated spaces of the global intimate.

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