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Love and Intimacy in Asia
Asian 285 / Women’s Studies 285

Monday and Wednesday, 8:30-10am
MLB Lecture Room 2

Instructor: Allison Alexy
6139 South Thayer Building
aalexy [at]
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 10am - 2pm, and by appointment. Use google calendar to make an appointment to talk or email if you would like to meet at a different time.
*Please do make an appointment to talk, so I know to expect you!

This course focuses on recent anthropological scholarship on romance in contemporary Asia through to examine how intimate relationships shape human experiences. Drawing from ethnographies of these diverse cultural contexts, we will consider changing perceptions of what makes relationships successful, and changing expectations about the role of romantic love in marriage. Through readings and films, we investigate the increasingly popular idealization of "companionate marriages," in which spouses are ideally linked by affection, and the subjectivities promoted by these ideals. Our ethnographic examples include queer and straight experiences, and a diversity of racial, cultural, classed, and gendered representations.

Key questions include: how do people understand themselves, and their identities, through romantic fantasies and intimate relationships? How does romantic love shape people's lives? What are the implications of having a relationship "arranged"? How do the rhetorics of "individuality" and "choice" shape romantic experiences? How does culture influence popular understandings of romance? And how does popular discourse about romance inflect personal experiences of it? How is romantic love experienced by people in different generations and at different moments in the life course? How are romantic love and consumerism related? How are they antithetical? How does romantic love impact gendered, classed, and raced identities? When and how do romantic relationships end? Do romantic intimacies bring particular risks?

Although this course is firmly rooted in ethnographic representations of romantic relationships, we will also explore how popular media discourse influences romantic ideals, and the vast industries selling various forms of romance -- from sex workers, to flirtatious bartenders, to wedding photographers. We will discuss how particular relationships are labeled "legitimate" or "opportunistic" to consider the complicated ties between ideologies of romance and (neoliberal) capitalism. Finally, this course examines the risks created through romantic entanglements, and experiences of infidelity or divorce.

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