This paper focuses on virtual reality (VR) engagements of migration in reference to the Girardian notion of mimetic desire and the embedded notion of rivalry, which are considered as informing possibilities for intimacy in virtual worlds. Possibilities for intimacy, in terms of turning to another and transcending the conditions of one’s existence, are here considered as becoming transformed by the digital. VRs subjected to analysis, by means of virtual cartography, consist of The Displaced (2015) and The Fight for Falluja (2016), produced by the New York Times. I argue that, while expressing something that cannot really be talked about is specifically enabled by discursive, affective, and corporeal experiences of VR, “the unspoken” at the same time eliminates the possibility of transcendence for various subjects involved in the making of a “reality.” The “political” in VR most visibly manifests itself in terms of rivalry over how to attain and behold the desirable, which becomes normalized beyond mores; inequalities thus produced are not rendered as constituting an injustice to any significant degree. This article is part of the special issue “Media, Migration, and Nationalism” of the journal Global Perspectives, Media and Communication, guest-edited by Koen Leurs and Tomohisa Hirata.

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