Public and private redrawn: geosocial sex and the offline [ENQA]

Matthew McGuire (Cambridge)
Michael Connors Jackman (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Dr Shaka McGlotten
Start time:
22 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel will explore in a global context the reconstitution by geosocial cruising technologies of two sets of oppositions-online/offline and public/private- to deal with the co-constitution of sexual lifeworlds at the interface of geosociality and physicality.

Long abstract:

This panel will ask how public and private realms are being reconstituted, complicated or multiplied with the rise of geosocial cruising. Core here is a connection of two debates concerned with the relationship between opposing spheres: public/private and online/offline. Sex in public is commonly framed as a social problem, a transgression of moral and legal codes that works to undermine social order and to erode the moral fabric of society (Berlant and Warner 1998). As such, the boundaries of clean and unclean come to be policed as though sex in public were 'matter out of place' (Douglas 1966), even where desire figures centrally in the structuring of social relationships and in the maintenance of social order. Scholars have suggested that geosocial technologies are complicating the relationship between private and public, leading to redistributions of intimacy and relationality (e.g., McGlotten 2013, Mowlabocus 2010, Muñoz 2009, Race 2015). In this context, what counts as 'public sex' is often unclear, and this implies a very different configuration of space, where the online/offline and public/private are multiply layered and constituted. Few have recoursed to transformations of public space in the context of the growth in new technologies. However, we assert that it is only by attending to how these technologies are woven into the physical world--through materialities, analogies or as transecting spaces-- that we can assess how they redefine queer socialities and redraw the boundaries of sexual publics.