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Drawing on and responding to the writings of theorists such as Judith Butler, Sarah Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, and Lisa Lowe, this book proposes the notion of “precarious intimacies” to navigate a dilemma: how to recognize, affirm, and value love, touch, and care while challenging the racialized and gendered politics in which they are embedded.

Twenty-first-century Europe is undergoing dramatic political and economic transformations that produce new forms of transnational contact as well as new regimes of exclusion and economic precarity. These political and economic shifts both circumscribe and enable new possibilities for intimacy. Many European films of the last two decades depict experiences of political and economic vulnerability in narratives of precarious intimacies. In these films, stories of intimacy, sex, love, and friendship are embedded in violence and exclusion, but, as Maria Stehle and Beverly Weber show, the politics of touch and connection also offers avenues to theorize forms of attention and affection that challenge exclusive notions of race, citizenship, and belonging.

Precarious Intimacies examines the aesthetic strategies that respond to this tension and proposes a politics of interpretation that identifies the potential and possibility of intimacy. (from


Introduction: Politics of Intimacy in Contemporary European Cinema -- Touching Journeys : Precarious Intimacies and Narratives of Nonarrival -- Touch as Narrative Disruption : Race, Gender, and Queering Intimacy -- Religion, Sexuality, and Precarious Intimacy -- Commodified Intimacy in a Globalizing Europe -- White Fragility and the White Gaze : Race, Gender, and Neoliberalism -- Conclusion: Precarious Intimacies, Collaborations, and Solidarities


978-0-8101-4213-8 ; 978-0-8101-4211-4 ; 978-0-8101-4212-1

Publication Date



Northwestern University Press


Evanston, IL


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This book is freely available in an open access edition thanks to TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem)—a collaboration of the Association of American Universities, the Association of University Presses, and the Association of Research Libraries—and the generous support of the University of Tennessee. Learn more at the TOME website, available at

Precarious Intimacies: The Politics of Touch in Contemporary Western European Cinema