Pornography in Small Places and Other Spaces

(Forthcoming in Cultural Studies, Spring 2004 )


This article investigates pornographic web-based media at a time when commercial pornography has flooded the Internet and pockets of sex activism are budding alongside the porn boom. Pornography moving freely across borders is foremost a capitalist vision, but the web’s sexual potency is equally defined by web users and artists who visit and maintain peer-to-peer networks for producing and sharing sexually explicit materials. Revisiting Foucault’s notion of space as “heterotopia,” networked sexual communication and pornography are shown to permeate physical places and other spaces. Web users cultivate attachments to everyday places and spaces other than the ones they routinely inhabit. Networked sexual agency materializes desire far beyond the confines of community rituals and commodity industries. Besides the fact that porn industries expand their markets and diversify products, sex communities emerge alongside these markets and play a vital role in negotiating sexuality. The article shows how the Internet’s decentralized mechanisms of power and communication, including debating societies and play grounds, have entered the realm of online porn and sexuality. Developing a theoretical notion of space as other spaces, the article unfolds the sexual web as exuberant, dispersed in bodies and cultures, yet forcefully regulated by global corporations and nation-state governments.


Keywords Internet pornography, censorship, globalization, heterotopia.

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