Mobilities, Communication, and Asia| Facebook, Long-Distance Marriages, and the Mediation of Intimacies
This article examines the intersections between transnational labor migration in Southeast Asia, the rise of advanced communication technologies, and intimacy in long-distance marriages. Exploring how Filipino migrants and their left-behind partners continue “doing” intimacy from a distance through mobile communication technologies, we interrogate how gendered discourses and practices of marriage are reorganized when wives take on the role of transnational breadwinners navigating the gender-segmented overseas labor market, while husbands are left at home. In an increasingly mediated age, how do communication technologies shape intimate relationships across distance? Conversely, how do the power dynamics in long-distance marriages shape mediated space? We argue that transnational couples engage in “performative mediated intimacies,” which are largely shaped by gendered discourses and practices surrounding being “ideal” wives and husbands. Faced with an “intimacy limbo” as a result of temporal and spatial distance, migrants and their partners cope by (re)shaping their transnational relationships in strategic ways. Despite the lack of opportunities for co-present marital interaction, the line between private and public marital lives becomes blurred in online platforms like Facebook.