Diasporic Intimacy

Svetlana Boym in her article “On Diasporic Intimacy: Ilya Kabakov’s Installations and Immigrant Homes” writes about intimacy as connected to home. She defines notion of intimacy by quoting émigré Russian writer Nina Berberova (on the photo), as ‘”innermost,” “pertaining to… one’s deepest nature,” “very personal,” “sexual.”‘ She also refers to the dictionary definition where ‘to intimate also means “to communicate with a hint or other indirect sign; to imply subtly.”‘

Boym is, however, interested in what she defines as diasporic intimacy that ‘can be approached only through indirection and intimation, through stories and secrets. It is spoken in a foreign language that reveals the inadequacies of translation. Diasporic intimacy does not promise an unmediated emotional fusion but only a precarious affection – no less deep, while aware of its transience. In contrast to the utopian images of intimacy as transparency, authenticity, and ultimate belonging, diasporic intimacy is dystopian by definiton; it is rooted in the suspicion of a single home.’ Boym’s notion of diasporic intimacy is a guide for my rethinking of remote intimacy. It does not hold on to the idea that intimacy is a private matter. As she claims, intimacy can be ‘protected, manipulated, or besieged by the state, framed by art, embelished by memory, or estanged by critique.’ (p. 499-500)

Notion of diasporic intimacy is inspiring when thinking about intimacy and the ways in which we occupy digital and social media spaces. Migrating into networked enhanced sphere of human encounters we also meet others in the space that does not  (yet?) feel like home. And perhaps the question is, will it ever? And as we move into environments that we share with nonhuman others, and as we start inhabiting spaces defined by algorithmic processes and generated through cobalt induced mobile phones and databases, we wonder what happens to intimacy in an environment when humans speak different language?





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