Intimacy is tightly bound up with notions of privacy, sexuality, proximity and secrecy, and with dynamics of sensual and affective attachments and forms of desire. In that sense, it is integral to the formation of what is called “the human,” selves, subjectivities, as well as communities, publics, collectives and socialities.
Anthropologists, by deploying ethnographic methods and immersing themselves in the everyday lives of their informants, have contributed a great deal to the investigation of such intimate domains. With this two-day workshop, we aim at contributing to the continuing anthropological discussions on intimacy, and explore how multiple domains and forms of intimacies are defined, shaped, constructed and transformed across cultures and social worlds.
Scholars have critically addressed the notion of intimacy where such narratives about sharing have become contentious, where intimate worlds have become the topic of fierce public debates. Intimacy thus seems to become visible precisely where it is being contested. This allows us to ask a whole set of questions: What are the social, cultural, political and economic conditions of intimacy? How are sentiments, desires and affect produced and distributed in social life? How does the production of knowledge and secrecy affect the domain of intimacy? What kinds of knowledge are rendered intimate, and what makes them intimate? What is it that is to be shared, as Berlant refers to, who does the sharing, and who is involved in crafting the narrative of sharing?
Anthropologists have long sought to investigate forms of intimacy that may be described as alternatives vis-à-vis given societal norms. In doing so, researchers have pointed out how such alternative forms of intimacy question and often transgress received notions of what is to belong to the private and the public domains and are thereby engaged in a negotiation over what types of interactions may and should be defined as intimate.
In this workshop, we would like to take up this idea of intimacy as a form of mediation, yet explore and investigate what forms of intimacy may be identified within and beyond the domain of sex and sexuality.
Applications are open to PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers who engage with ethnographic methods in their research. Each participant will have 20 minutes for presenting their work.