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(Un)making intersectional subjectivities through affective politics of digital technologies

Authors: Siewying Shee*, National University Of Singapore
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Social Geography, Cyberinfrastructure
Keywords: Affect, subjectivities, intersectionality, digital technologies, digital health, Singapore
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Digital technologies have opened up a multiplicity of affective intensities which exceeds their material and representational qualities. Although the links between digital technologies and affect have been well illustrated in geography, the effects of such affectively-charged digital space-times in (un)making intersectional subjectivities have yet to be clearly elucidated. Using the example of digital health technologies in Singapore, I argue that a focus on affect could advance academic understandings of the relationship between digital geographies and intersectional subjectivities. In foregrounding the transpersonal and sensed dimensions of bodies, the concept of affect could better capture the subtle nuances in which subjectivities are constituted differently in relation with other human and more-than-human bodies. Drawing on health diaries and interviews, I discuss how more-than-human entities such as numbers and aesthetics on digital technologies create affective politics for bodies along the intersections of race, gender and size. Focusing on self-tracking digital devices and mobile applications, numeropolitics is concerned with the calculating approach to fitness and diet, which conditions the ways gendered and raced bodies manage their sizes. Aesthetic politics revolves around the proliferation of visuals on digital media platforms, which complicates how bodies understand and feel about themselves in relation to other genders, races and sizes. Bodies engage with, experience and negotiate these affective politics of numbers and aesthetics differently, which contribute to creating new categories of subjectivities. In sum, I emphasise that bringing affect and intersectionality into digital geographies could move this field closer to appreciating the diverse experiences and politics of human-digital encounters.

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