please note more information is still being added
24 – 25 – 26 September 2021
Please note that all times are in London/Lisbon summer time (UTC+1). See The Time Zone Converter if you need to know when that will be on your timezone!
Check all our presenters’ bios here!
24th of September 2021
11:30 — 13:00 Panel 1: CNM, pandemics, environment and ecological politics
14:30 — 16:00 Panel 2: Decentering CNM Whiteness – Decolonial and anti-racist perspectives
Crystal Byrd Farmer
25th of September 2021
11:30 — 13:00 Panel 3: Parenting Paradigms – CNM challenges to mononormativity
Eli Sheff and Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli
14:30 — 16:00 NMCI get-together: free-form discussion and debate, moderated by NMCI volunteers
26th of September 2021
11:30 — 13:00 Panel 4: Communities of Care – Trauma, In/exclusion and Non-violence
14:30 — 16:00 Panel 5: Global South and Latinx existences – NMCI2022 presentation
Santiago de Chile Team
COVID-19 and the Need for Exclusive Choice: Corona Crisis and Intimate Relationships
The lecture presents results of a qualitative study conducted in Germany in the second half of 2020: 18 people who were in no or more than one partnership at the time of the survey were interviewed about their intimate practices in the Corona crisis. The interactions between Corona public sphere(s) and these practices are the focus of the analysis: the need to limit physical-close contacts to an absolute minimum, distance bans and the closure of public meeting spaces had an impact on the structures of intimate relationships. The interviews show that public images and narratives have effects on which physical-close contact was perceived as legitimate and which was not. For example, questions from the interviewees revolve around the necessity of dating in the Corona pandemic: Is it necessary to meet new persons in the crisis? What about my multiple intimate relationships, can everyone continue to meet everyone? People who ask themselves these questions are encouraged in the crisis context not to answer them for themselves alone. They are also encouraged to relate their own actions to the social responsibility they have in dealing with the pandemic.
For this reason questions about intimate relationships and physical proximity are posed differently. For example, while Illouz (Why Love Hurts) states in her analysis of love that non-choice — not having to choose someone — is a free expression of modern subjectivity, these subjects in the Corona crisis context, on the other hand, are faced with the necessity of making a choice: they must choose with whom they want to share physical closeness, and their choice must be small. These experiences are new for many people, especially those who have chosen to practice diverse forms of intimate relationships (e.g. non-monogamous relationships). How their intimate practices have changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic will be discussed during the presentation.
Dangerous Liaisons – Alternative Intimacies in Israel in the Time of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a proliferation of discourses and regulations concerning separation, capsulation and isolation that often reinforced traditional conceptions in relation to the centrality of the couple and the mononormative family. In Israel Covid-19 regulations situated the couple and the couple-centred family, as the main social unit around which lockdowns had been organised. The state ignored other forms of intimate citizenship, which required polyamorous and queer people, living in non-normative intimate formations to make some tough decisions on how to administrate their relationships at the time of the pandemic.
This presentation explores the practices and the experiences of adult Israeli individuals, living in non-normative intimate constellations, during the pandemic. It is based on qualitative research involving individual and group semi-structured interviews and textual analysis of legal documents, including state-regulations concerning interpersonal relationships at the time of Covid-19.
I will open with a discussion of intimate citizenship in Israel at the time of Covid-19 and the reinforcement of mononormativities. I then, show that the most common response to the mononormativity of the Covid-19 regulations within polyamorous and queer circles was the construction of individual forms of ‘ethical civil disobedience’ that adapted the regulations to include alternative intimacies. Finally, I move on to discuss the beneficial aspects of alternative intimacies at the time of the pandemic. I indicate that non-couple-centred choices, in regard to housing and child-rearing, contributed to the resilience of individual, intimate and familial relationships, during lockdowns, by providing options of space and separation, alongside poly-affective support networks.
Promiscuous Care and Pandemic Intimacies amongst Gay and Bisexual Men
In this paper I bring together two bodies of work to explore the ethics of non-monogamy, care and intimacy during the coronavirus pandemic. I begin by outlining the concept of ‘promiscuous care’, which was developed in the co-authored The Care Manifesto (2019). Drawing on Douglas Crimp’s definition of promiscuity, which emphasised multiplication and experimentation of sexual practices beyond mononormative, hetero-reproductive models and which went on to save lives during the AIDS crisis, promiscuous care is a call to similarly multiply and experiment with models of care beyond the shrivelled forms which prevail today. In the second part of this talk I bring this concept to bear on empirical work carried out as part of the ESRC funded ‘Digital Intimacies: how gay and bisexual men use their smartphones to negotiate their cultures of intimacy’. The interviews carried out for this project took place during the coronavirus pandemic and its various physical distancing restrictions. Participants therefore reflected on how they negotiated their different cultures of intimacy at a time when it was prohibited to get closer that one metre (plus) to someone from outside your household. These arrangements privileged monogamous, co-habiting partners, and provided a series of challenges to anyone else who deviated from that norm. I home in on interviews with two non-monogamous participants, one who felt unable to practice any form of physical intimacy under the pandemic restrictions, and one who, alongside five ‘sex buddies’, collectively negotiated a range of strategies that helped them maintain physical intimacy with principles of harm reduction in mind. I use these interviews to argue that far from reckless, irresponsible hedonists (as gay men are so often portrayed in relation to non-monogamy), these non-monogamous practices constitute a form of ‘promiscuous care’ that enabled my participant and his sex-buddies to sustain their lives in pandemic conditions.
Non-monogamy in the Black American community
Crystal Byrd Farmer
Black Americans have a historical and cultural connection to non-monogamy that is not often represented in narratives about non-monogamy. How have Black relationships been shaped by polygamy, Christianity, slavery, and Black nationalism, and what are the unique challenges that Black Americans face when interacting with the predominantly white and middle class non-monogamous cultures?
Distal to Proximal: Decentering whiteness via the intersectional prism
How can we decenter whiteness in CNM when facets of the intersectional prism exists distal to our awareness?
How societally conditioned tropes of race and ethnicity facilitate fetishization, objectification and gatekeeping and where they sit within a colonialised historical context of relational procedure. How decentering from the axis requires an intersectional conversation about class, ableism, age, capitalism and patriarchy.
Using my relational ethnicity map and Sullivan’s self-system, during this presentation we will aim to bring those facets into proximal awareness and highlight selective inattention to the intersectional prism in CNM. How our self-system and Moore’s Paradox intersect to prevent us from having our beliefs challenged and how we can avoid anxiety through a lens of proximal awareness.
Decolonial perspectives on consensual non-monogamy
This panel presentation will focus on consensual non-monogamy (CNM) within the broader varieties of contemporary non-monogamies. I will consider the whiteness of CNM, explore the various foci of monogamy, as well as CNM in pre-colonial history, before examining key aspects of modern coloniality and decolonial perspectives and futures. I will conclude by braiding together decolonial invitations and challenges with a questioning of consent as a focal paradigm, and an initial articulation of CNM as sacred and wild sexuality.
Polyamorous Families: Findings Across Continents and Decades
Eli Sheff & Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli
Drs. Sheff and Pallotta-Chiarolli will first introduce their studies on polyamorous families and briefly summarize their independent findings, noting the significant areas of overlap among the findings of the studies. Next, Dr. Sheff focuses in greater depth on polyamorous parents’ collective “free range parenting” practices. Then, Dr. Pallotta-Chiarolli provides a brief in depth overview of the intersections of Indigeneity, ethnicity, and religion in her findings. Finally, the presentation closes with questions.
Multiple parentings and multiple conjugalities: transformations and challenges
The “Parenting Paradigms” panel seeks to advance the discussion around the social acceptance and juridical recognition of non-normative families under the Western mononormative standard. In a postmodern contemporary world marked by diversity – of identities, relationships, affective bonds, modes of parenting and familiar arrangements – the debate must per force foreground issues around Human Rights, Family Rights, and cisheteromononormativity. Stemming from a Brazilian perspective, and considering the paradoxical social resistance to recognizing polyamorous unions side by side with a growing acceptance and protection of polyparenting, we will reflect about the multiplicities, possibilities, contradictions and consequences of affective bonds.
Re-imagining narratives of intimate violence: PhotoVoice inquiries with queer non/monogamous communities in Lethbridge, Canada
Seven collaborators in this research used PhotoVoice, a visual participatory action methodology, to explore the complexity of violence as it is lived, represented, and (re)defined in the context of queer non/monogamous communities in Lethbridge, Canada. Critically engaging with the themes of neoliberalism and the intersections of power and identity that often shape spaces of non/monogamies, collaborators considered prevailing narratives of violence within their communities, and how these narratives challenge or sustain conventional gender-based heteronormative models of relationship violence. Through the participatory process, collaborators troubled what constitutes and qualifies violence, how violence is talked about, and made more explicit connections between interpersonal, community, and state violence. Their complex and unfolding stories generated visual conversations that they organized into themes: “rethinking violence,” “acceptable forms/stereotypes/ expectations of queerness,” “labour, needs, and boundaries,” “hierarchies,” and “creating change.” Collectively, these themes delineate the unmistakable bond between liberal ideas of political emancipation, and the often obscured violences felt in contexts of supposed freedom. With communities of care at the forefront, this research draws particular attention to the dichotomous language of victimization and perpetration, identity-based abuse tactics, contractual models of consent, and both hierarchical and egalitarian ideals, creating entry points for people to re-envision the reliance of their communities on conventional gender-based heteronormative models of relationship violence, and allowing all non/monogamous folks to engage with our experiences in ways that honour the fullness of their complexity.
Caring communities for marginalized populations within a polyamory organization
This discussion will highlight opportunities, missteps and challenges in building on knowledge of trauma and experiences of marginalization polyamory in creating and maintaining caring communities within a polyamory non-profit social organization. Integrating the importance of policies and procedures that center safety for members of marginalized groups, creating a diverse board of directors and soliciting ongoing community feedback around both in-person and virtual events, Dr. Vaughan will discuss how a social/educational non-profit in Ohio, USA has strived to create safer spaces within the context of cisheteropatriarchy, white supremacy, classism and ableism. Opportunities and issues around access access, donations/dues, addressing harmful language and assumptions and addressing formal and informal concerns regarding harmful behavior will be discussed as well as leadership and meeting facilitation within a board largely comprised of white, queer women with varying privileges and experiences of lived oppression.
Sick and tired of being sick and tired
Are you ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’? (Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964). The starting point of this paper is ‘caring for [ourselves] is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare’ (Lorde, 1988: 131). The question is how do we create communities of care in our contexts of intersectional racist trauma, exclusion, and violence? How do we realize our vision, desires, and yearnings for inclusive, peaceful, loving communities of care? What we do know is that ‘survival isn’t theoretical, we live it everyday. We live it on the streets, we live it in the banks, we live it with our children’ (Greene, 1989:183) and ‘those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. (Lorde, 1979:112; emphasis in original).
This paper offers a Black queer feminist model of communities of self-care practice based on three intersecting principles from the work of Audre Lorde.
· The first principle: ‘choosing areas where your energy is most effective’ (Lorde, 1988: 64-5).
· The second principle: ‘the transformation of silence into language and action’ (Lorde, 1977a).
· The third principle: ‘learn to love the power of your feelings, and to use that power for your good’ (Lorde, 1977b: 37-38).
The triangulated synergy of these principles forms a mutually constitutive relationship, which releases a multiplication effect, a power greater than taking each principle individually. The primary strategy of these principles is mutual collective sharing of experience, where ‘the intersections of [our] stories’ (Davies, 2016: 136) create the ‘intersectionality of [our] struggles’ (ibid: 144).