'Polyamory' Symposium


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...


Reading books as spaces – Heterotopias against techno-scientific determinism

Reading books as spaces – Heterotopias against techno-scientific determinism



Polyamory: Attempting an identitary meta-narrative


In this presentation, we will try to frame the appearance of polyamory as an identity within the broader context of socio-cultural changes happening in Western contemporary culture. Through the theoretical framework of Nicholas Rose, Michel Foucault, Ulrich Beck, among others, we will attempt to demonstrate polyamory as a construct arising from three particular and distinctive aspects of western contemporary culture, as an individualized, sexualized and psychologized culture. Each aspect will be characterized and then linked back to the birth of polyamory as a concept; in turn, these links will be analyzed in their tensional characteristics between possible queer/non-normative life alternatives and a rehashing of neo-liberal/post-feminist discourse that can bring about an illusion of subjective empowerment. Of particular importance to this analysis is the role of Psychology, both as field of research into polyamory, and as a techno-social lens through which polyamory is enacted – and the ways through which such a framing might also align itself with neo-liberalism, or with a narrowing down of the political, sexual, social and philosophical implications of polyamory and other critical/consensual non-monogamies.

Keywords: polyamory, sexuality, individualization, psychologization


From Mono-Normative to Poly-Normative? Reflections on queer relational projects and (non-)monogamies


jump to the audio recordings and PowerPoints of the talks here

(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