The Fantasy of Wholeness: Ethical Imaginations of The Good Life in Migrant Personal Communities
Michael Humbracht (University of Surrey)
Paper short abstract:
The paper problematizes heteronormative divisions of kinship and friendship within Italian migrant personal communities. Examining digital and physical co-presence, the paper argues all relationships develop through a shared affective fantasy for solid intimacy.
Paper long abstract:
Despite recognition of significant changes in the area of personal life, heteronormativity is often understood as a durable and highly pervasive force. Such understandings have reinforced analytical separations of kinship and friendship, leading to conceptualizations that equate friendship to the global and freedom, and kinship to the sedentary and semi-static. Instead, this paper views normativity as aspirational, demonstrating how fantasies of the good life linked to solid intimacy act a key force articulating a variety of relationships often subsumed between kinship and friendship. Drawing on a multi-sited ethnography between London and Italy, the paper focuses on practices of digital and physical co-presence within the trans-local personal communities of highly skilled Italian migrants in London. The paper employs Henrietta Moore's notion of the ethical imagination to argue that all relationships within personal communities are articulated through a fantasy of wholeness, a shared affective structure that mobilizes imagined intimacies of the good life, intertwined with an inter-subjective ethics of co-transformation of self. Rhythms of co-presence develop and become a means for self-actualization of life course projects, where informants leverage the affordances of ICTs and visits together in order reimagine selves through new forms of togetherness. As rhythms are normalized, differences between forms of co-presence melt together, reinforcing a common ethics of connectedness and a felt, authentic sense of intimacy. The paper concludes that the capacity for freedom, transformations of self and reimaginings of the togetherness do not derive only through divisions of kinship and Friendship but through a fantasy of wholeness constructed across migrant personal communities.
Virtuous (im)mobilities: the good life and its discrepancies