Annotation: Padilla, Mark, Jennifer S. Hirsch, et al. 2008. Love and Globalization

Padilla, Mark, Jennifer S. Hirsch, et al. 2008. Love and Globalization: Transformations of Intimacy in the Contemporary World. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.

According to the introduction to Love and Globalization (2007:ix), “love is a highly productive tool for social analysis, revealing some of the most basic ways that human societies organize social life, meaning, and intimate experience, as well as how individuals enact, resist, or transform social discourses of love within specific cultural and historical contexts.” The authors of the collection argue for the need to look into the “political economy of love” in order to understand the “intimate sides of globalization,” as well as the diverse ways in which this intimacy is expressed and experienced (xviii). Several chapters are of interest. Carla Freeman, on middle-class partnerships in Barbados (Chapter 1), and Saskia Wieringa, on marginalized b/f couples in Indonesia Chapter 3), show “how political-economic inequalities shape the subjective experiences of love and intimacy” (xix). These examples provide an insight into the unique kinds of strategizing that women employ. Constable (Chapter 12) explores heterosexual romantic relationships through online correspondence courtship, an arena made possible by globalization and by technologies, and which may reproduce and reflect global inequalities and realities (254), but which may also simultaneously provide a platform for the experience of romance and bodily pleasure. Katherine Frank (Chapter 8) writes about adult “sex play,” as motivated by fantasies and desires, in a world that provides better access to communication, travel, and spending. Elizabeth Bernstein (Chapter 9), meanwhile, writes about the growing sexual commerce, such as the marketability of the girlfriend experience “within the context of market-generated social hierarchies” (198). Marcia Inhorn (Chapter 7), writes how Islam shapes the moral experience of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and how couples and families are able to negotiate their familial connectivity, now based on love, instead of the patriarchal pressures on men. In the study of female prostitution in Sosua, Denise Brennan (Chapter 10) demonstrates how female sex workers are motivated by ideas of women’s emancipation, and contemporary notions of economic success, but due to various circumstances beyond their control, they end up trapped in the same socio-economic inequalities that they hoped to transcend in the first place.

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