“Call Me in the Dorm”. Mobile Communication and the Shifting Topographies of Intimate Relationships in Bangladesh
AbstractIn Bangladesh, as in many other national and cultural settings, intimate relations and intimacy between married and especially non-married couples are restricted by strong socio-cultural norms. These restrictions vary across different places, and thus distinct topographies of intimacy can be discerned. Mobile communication is currently challenging such topographies by enabling interaction and “virtual intimacy” across physical barriers and over spatial distances, or by helping to conceal relationships and interactions. This study examines these spatial shifts with three examples. First, the maintenance of long-distance relationships for rural-to-urban labour migrants; second, the establishing and conducting of relationships through phone calls, sometimes with random partners and over arbitrary distances; and third, the way in which students make use of the mobile phone in order to circumvent the strict gender separation between dormitories.