Familial Intimacy and the ‘Thing’ between Us. Cuddle Curtains and Desires for Detached Relationality in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
ABSTRACT : During the government-imposed contact restrictions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, older adults feared that they may no longer be able to experience physical contact with family members. They were, however, given hope by a ‘cuddle curtain’, a device that promised to enable familial intimacy while blocking the exposure of older bodies to the coronavirus. Our research team traced how one such artefact was used in nursing homes in Switzerland. Here, we discuss its cultural biography to explore notions of intimacy by relating discussions about the curtain to anthropological discussions about entanglement and detachment. We contrast positive associations between the curtain and familial intimacy with regulations surrounding body fl uid barriers in sex work, in order to relate the ‘thing’ to the larger context within which it circulates.
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