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"Citizenship, Care and Choice: The Micropolitics of Intimacy in Southern Europe"

Final Report Summary - INTIMATE (Citizenship, Care and Choice: The Micropolitics of Intimacy in Southern Europe)

Changes in personal life in recent decades illustrate significant socio-cultural transformations. However, the focus of mainstream sociological literature has been the heterosexual, monogamous and reproductive couple, with little research exploring non-conventional intimacy in Southern Europe. INTIMATE was the first research project addressing LGBTQ intimate citizenship in Southern Europe funded by the ERC. It involved a pool of international consultants as well as an interdisciplinary team of researchers coordinated by Ana Cristina Santos at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal.
Between March 2014 and February 2019, INTIMATE: 1) provided a contextualized account of LGBTQ experiences of partnering, parenting and friendship based on narrative biographic and expert interviews; 2) offered a cross-national analysis of legal, political and policy contexts in terms of recognition of otherwise “intimate strangers”; 3) developed an analysis of the implications of these transformations for social policy and law both at national and international level, with recommendations for policymakers and legislators; 4) contributed to further theoretical debates about citizenship, care, choice, sexuality, welfare, individualization and relationality.

Main achievements accomplished:
1. INTIMATE Case Studies: seven studies were conducted within INTIMATE in Portugal, Spain and Italy: Lesbian coupledom and Polyamory (Strand 1 – Micropolitics of Partnering); Medically Assisted Reproduction, Surrogacy and Politics of Naming (Strand 2– Micropolitics of Parenting) and Care and Transgender and Living with friends (Strand3 – Micropolitics of Friendship). Overall, 157 in-depth interviews were conducted, including 85 Biographic Narrative Interviews and 72 Voices of Experts.
2. Participatory workshops and Advanced Training: workshops with country-based and international consultants; Local Seminars in Lisbon, Madrid and Rome; Advanced Seminars with doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers, including one Summer School.
3. Conceptual innovation: INTIMATE advanced the notions of “relational citizenship” to capture both the disjunctions and possibilities for reframing how we perceive, represent and manage our intimate lives vis-à-vis the state (law and social policy); “relational performativity” to describe the practices through which intimate relations are socially displayed, considering intimate relationships depend upon rehearsed scripts that guide interaction and become constitutive of the relational encounter; “fluid kinship” to signal the blurred boundaries between friends, partners, lovers, ex-lovers, family of origin and acquired or chosen families; “de-mononormalizing citizenship” as the call to strip laws and social policy of their by-default-monogamous normative assumptions; “welfare friendship” to signal the centrality of friendship for LGBT people as main source of material and emotional support. This is particularly important in the context of Southern Europe where the social state has been retracting its social policies.
4. Impact and Communication: 80 newspaper articles; press releases; INTIMATE website (839765 hits) and Facebook page (1900 followers); presentations by the research team in 21 countries; other materials disseminated amongst academic and non-academic public nationally and internationally (e.g. Policy Research Brief; Memorandum on Trans Policies); the INTIMATE International Conferences Queering Partnering (2016), Queering Parenting (2017) and Queering Friendship (2018) with a total of 600 delegates from 30 countries across the globe.
A key recommendation drawing on our analysis is that equality and citizenship policies must protect relations based on friendship, alongside relational bonds such as partnering and parenting.