From Mono-Normative to Poly-Normative? Reflections on queer relational projects and (non-)monogamies
(II European Geographies of Sexualities Conference, Lisbon, September 5th – 7th)
Convened by: Daniel Cardoso (Media and Journalism Research Center, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences – New University of Lisbon; Lusophone University of Humanities and Technology)
Although the history of polyamory-as-identity is as recent as early 1990s (Cardoso, 2011), there is already considerable theoretical and activist impetus towards moving beyond it. Wilkinson (2010) gives a consistent critique of how non-monogamies have been meticulously appropriated into neo-liberalism, and Pepper Mint (2007) has argued that we should not necessarily conflate queer and polyamorous communities. And although mainstream media visibility of polyamory is growing, it is selective in what it portrays (Zanin, 2013). Furthermore, whilst there have been advancements in formal LGBT rights, polyamory is sometimes framed as being a hindrance to the process (Vale de Almeida, 2008). In this context polynormativity remains an ever-open possibility, where even vocal communities seem to be reticent to battle for formal legal changes (Aviram, 2008).
Responding to Barker and Langdridge’s (2010) call for “more attention to diversities of meanings and practices, […] and the troubling of dichotomous understandings”, this panel seeks to understand the varied geo-temporalities of mononormativity and polynormativity, and the ways in which these concepts interact with individualism, capitalism, feminism, queer theory, queer/LGBT activism, politics, law, and also personal accounts of discrimination and privilege.
As such, we invite empirical and/or theoretical papers that critically and contextually analyze the tensions and (re)productions of normativities as it pertains to (non-) monogamies. Interesting topics might be, but are not limited to:
- (Non-)monogamies, normativity and LGBT activism;
- Coupledom as (macro and micro-)social expectation
- Media representations of (non-)monogamies
- Queer politics and (non-)monogamies
- Future projects for polyamory/consensual non-monogamies activism
- Everyday life, (non-)monogamies and discrimination
- Geo-historically contextualizing mono and poly normativities
- (Romantic) Intimacies and normativity
- Femininities, masculinities and (non-)monogamies
- Neoliberal/capitalist appropriation: methods and resistance
- ‘Race’ and non-western experiences of consensual (non-)monogamies
Symposium presented at the IASR 2012, on July 11th, 2012, with the participation of Sari van Anders, Alex Iantaffi and Daniel Cardoso.
Below are the materials presented at the conference, as well as the audio recordings of the event, in English.
Abstracts and Presentations...
This panel’s intention is to demonstrate how, more and more, the notion of a relationship identity and the way it shapes people’s sexual and intimate behaviors has become central to conducting research around sexualities. Our intention is to critically acknowledge but also question the modes of existence of polyamory and of polyamorous subjectivities, dealing with issues of definitions (or lack thereof), research practices and the tensions between normativization and the queering of practices and theories. Our combined works will not only contextualize polyamory and its subjects within the field of (responsible) non-monogamies, but also make it interact with mononormativity and, also, possible emergent forms of polyamorous normativities.
We are then taken to the issue of what a polyamorous subjectivity can be, how can it be constituted and also how - in a seemingly contradictory way - this bid against mononormativity (and thus, against the notion that monogamy can be seen as superior or more desirable), makes sex an especially controversial (but nonetheless central) issue: an issue often to be discursively avoided in an attempt at a possible social respectability stemming from the emphasis given to feelings (and, hence, -”amory”).
Though explicitly non-monogamous relationships are anything but new, the last 20 years have seen the rise and development of another identity: polyamory. This new identity brings with it a focus on feelings and emotions, and seeks to build itself around the ethical notions of frankness and communication. But what is frank communication, how is it supposed to be deployed and, most of all, how does it work in constituting an ethical practice and subjectivity? From the analysis of the conversations on the oldest mailing list on polyamory, we consider how this relates to Foucault’s writing of the self as an ethopoietic practice based on parrhesia - the courage of truth. By focusing on feelings, polyamorous subjects seek to improve themselves and be more autonomous by being able to better control and modify those same feelings.