Transnational geographies of the heart [Book Review]

Author: Johnston, Lynda

Date: 2020

Publisher: Informa UK Limited

Type: Journal article

Link to this item using this URL: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13426

University of Waikato

Abstract

Transnational Geographies of the Heart provides rich insights into the lives of British migrants in Dubai during a time when the UAE was undergoing rapid globalisation, super-fast urbanisation, and economic diversification (2002–2004). Dubai, as Walsh explains, was a perfect site to explore transnational migrants’ intimate subjectivities. It is one of the ‘most global’ cities in the world with about 85% of its population born in other countries, and appealing to British migrants due to ‘tax-free sunshine’ (p. 2). Walsh was motivated to conduct research on British migrants in Dubai not because she had been one, but because she wanted to know their sense of home and belonging, their geographies of the heart. She found herself ‘increasingly exploring the textures of intimacy negotiated and enacted by British migrants in this particular spatial-temporal, and thoroughly transnational, urban site, but without the language for doing so’ (p. 4). The book then, focuses on ‘freely established relationships from the perspective of relatively privileged migrants, questions of power and the impact of global work on the reproduction of migrants’ subjectivities’ (p. 4). British migrants in Dubai are marked by privilege – white, middle class, heterosexual – yet they are also diverse in their performances of heterosexual and gendered subjectivities. This book shows the power of these performances as they work, play and live in Dubai. Throughout the book Walsh refuses to focus on any one type of relationship, rather she explores a range of interpersonal relations, such as friendships, ‘community’, and sexual relationships. As she notes ‘love ties cannot be isolated from their enactment of friendship or family’ (p. 4) and this intersectional approach to intimate subjectivities proves to be a rich formula for her research.