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Masters' Thesis, "Loving Many", on Polyamory.

This thesis was in the area of Communication Sciences, specialization in Contemporary Culture and New Technologies. The advisor was Fernando Cascais.

The thesis can be downloaded here, but it is in Portuguese - Repositório da Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

The abstract is below, in English.



This Thesis aims to determine if the users of the alt.polyamory mailing list, by telling their personal experiences in writing, are actually performing in a queer way, questioning mono-normativity and a heterocentric view on society, by being self-reflexive and caring for their self (gnothi seauton) through writing (as ethopoiesis) and reading of the self, instead of being driven by the technology of confession. This should allow us to determine, by analogy, if polyamory is a queer identity. Given that polyamory is an iteration of Giddens’ pure relationship, the challenges and contradictions it poses present specific problems to the subjects, and those need to be interpreted in the light of the interactions between the alliance and sexuality devices, as Foucault describes them. The meaning and nature of virtual communities was also a focal point of reflection, in order to contextualize data retrieval. To obtain answers to these problems, the email exchanges initiated by newcomers to the alt.polyamory list in 2009 were analyzed: statistically, by performing content and by discourse analysis. The results point to a differentiation between the core group of the newsgroup and the newcomers, where only the first ones do actually maintain practices that can potentially be identified as non-hegemonic in how they produce subjectivity. Polyamory is thusly identified as being, more than a sexual or emotional practice, a moral positioning that deeply imbibes the subject in his production of himself, and where parrhēsia (frankness) is the main element that allows a polyamorous person’s actions to be morally judged. This parrhēsia is a sine qua non condition to maintaining the Self’s autonomy, and so it is given but also demanded of the Other; equity in alterity is fundamental to the subject who, without the Other, cannot be constituted as such. And if all of the above enables the subject to question the possibility horizon of the elements that constitute him as a subject, it also opens the door to a possible hegemony of this moral standard to all intimate relationships.

KEYWORDS: polyamory, alt.polyamory, care of the self, writing of the self, parrhēsia, queer, intimacy, pure relationship, sexuality, individualization, virtual community