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INTIMATE Report Summary

Project ID: 338452
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Portugal

Mid-Term 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 is the first research project addressing LGBTQ intimate citizenship in Southern Europe funded by the ERC. It involves 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 August 2016, INTIMATE: 1) provided a contextualized account of LGBTQ experiences of partnering and parenting based on narrative 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 (EU), 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: Five 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). Overall 115 in-depth interviews were conducted, including 59 Biographic Narrative Interviews and 56 Voices of Experts.

2. Participatory workshops: with country-based and international consultants; Local Seminars in Lisbon, Madrid and Rome; Advanced Seminars with doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers.

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.

4. Impact and Communication: 34 newspaper articles; press releases; INTIMATE website (15,493 hits) and Facebook page (1363 followers); presentations by the research team in 11 countries; other materials disseminated amongst academic and non-academic public nationally and internationally (e.g. Newsletter, Research Brief); the INTIMATE International Conference Queering Partnering with 175 registered delegates traveling from 15 different countries across the globe (mostly Europe and America).

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