1st Edition

Skype: Bodies, Screens, Space

By Robyn Longhurst Copyright 2017
    162 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    162 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Despite the popularity of Skype with video many of us are still figuring out how to ‘do’ it. Interviews reveal that we can now run the programme but we are less certain about how to ‘perform’ in front of the webcam. Seeing ourselves in the box on the side can feel strange. We are not quite sure which bits of our bodies to display on the screen, how much to move around the room, or move the device around the room. Is it acceptable to use Skype with video at a funeral, in crowded spaces or while in bed? This book addresses how people are emotionally and affectually connecting with others audio-synchronously on the screen in a variety of different spatial contexts. Topics include Skype with video being used by grandparents to connect with grandchildren, friends and family using it for special occasions, and partners using it for romance and sex. Theories addressing bodies, gender, queerness, phenomenology and orientation inform the research. It concludes that while Skype does not offer some kind of utopian future, it does open up possibilities for existing power relations to be filtered through new lines of sight/site which are shaping what bodies can do and where.

    List of illustrations




    1 Why Skype, why now?

    Feeling my way

    Milestones for Skype

    Where to from here?

    2 Queer phenomenology: from writing tables to digital screens

    Getting orientated

    Spinning outwards




    3 Interviewing: face-to-face and on Skype

    The participants

    Feeling the interviews

    Shifting senses

    Internet sources or ‘vulgar geographies’

    4 Selves, others, objects and space

    The self in the box

    The difference gender makes

    ‘Theatres of composition’

    5 Families, friends and loved ones

    Across the generations

    Special occasions

    ‘Sinking’ into the spaces of Skype

    6 Skype for work: ‘A bit weird’

    Job interviews

    Meetings and collegial communications


    7 Skype sex: ‘Queer effects’?

    Katie’s story

    Real sex and contrived sex

    Generational difference?

    8 Reorientating bodies and spaces

    Lines of sight/site

    Back to writing tables and digital screens





    Robyn Longhurst is Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Professor of Geography at University of Waikato. She has served as Editor-in-Chief of Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography and Chair of the International Geographical Union Commission on Gender and Geography. Robyn has published on issues relating to digital media, pregnancy, mothering, sexuality, ‘visceral geographies’, masculinities, and body size and shape.