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Cultural Anasysis

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Love exchange and sentimental circulations: rethinking romantic love (EN-FR)

Location Jakobi 2, 336
Date and Start Time 01 July, 2013 at 10:30


Jordi Roca (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) email
Begonya Enguix (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) email
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Short Abstract

The triumph of romantic love represented a revolutionary break with the previous strategies for partner election. We aim to interrogate our current understandings of love in relation to postmodernity, the romantic ideals, practices, ICTs, gender, class and other categories.

Long Abstract

Romantic love in the Western World represented a revolutionary break with a hegemonic definition of love based on homogamy and parental decisions in choosing spouses, among other things. Romantic love relied on the ideas of free choice of the spouse and the belief in the indissoluble association of love and passion and their ideal durability. Postmodernism has provoked a new mutation in love (known with such terms as confluent love) which is characterized by the reflexivity of the love relationship and the fulfillment of expectations.

We welcome contributions to debate on the current understandings of love. Here are some examples:

- Is romantic love in crisis, or is it still being disseminated and proposed as an ideal both in the societies where it emerged and in those under their influence? How do ideas on romantic love circulate?

- How are the love and sentimental expressions culturally defined? How are they produced, circulated, assumed and/or contested?

- How are love ideals and sentimental practices articulated?

- Which meaningful exchanges influence the 'open biographical planning' which emphasizes the near-dogma of the elective character of all the areas of human experience? How determining is the impact of circulation, exchange and mutation in postmodern love narratives?

- How do people experience and how do they deal with the current uncertainty in love and with the high sentimental expectations of the individuals?

- What influence do the ICTs have on shaping the geographies of love, of love exchange and the current marriage markets?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


The conception of love in the context of "spousal migration"

Author: Miriam Gutekunst (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich)  email

Short Abstract

In the case of binational couples where one has the German citizenship and the other one is categorized as "negative third country national", different conceptions of love and marriage come together. How do these different discourses affect the individual conceptions of love of these couples?

Long Abstract

"That what I always hear in Germany makes me really afraid. I ask myself what he likes about me? I just have the German passport", said Maria reflecting on her relationship to Karim. She has the German and he has the Moroccan citizenship. They have met during Marias holidays in Morocco. If they want to live together in Germany, they have to marry. This is the only way for Karim to enter the European Union because he is legally categorized as "negative third country national". But first Maria wants to know if this love between Karim and her is "true love". If they decide to marry and to pass the procedures of spousal migration in order to live together, they will face again the question: Is this "true love"? This time it is the German Government who wants to know it.

In the case of binational couples where one has the German citizenship and the other one is legally categorized as "negative third country national" e.g. from Morocco, different conceptions of love, relationship and marriage are coming together. These binational couples are facing discourses about love and marriage in both, German and Moroccan society, and at the same time from migration policies. In this paper I want to analyse which influence these institutions and discourses have on the individual conceptions of love and marriage of these binational couples.

Conceptions of true love and love magic among Hungarians in Gyimes

Author: Judit Balatonyi (University of Pécs)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation deals with conceptions of true love and love magic among Hungarians living in the Gyimes area in Romania. To the illustration of the Gyimesian interpretations of the romantic love I invoke a medical anthropological theory of the “love as sickness”.

Long Abstract

This presentation deals with conceptions of true love and love magic among the Gyimesian Hungarians. I argue that the different actors of a certain culture interpret the nature of emotional experience and define the meaning of love in different ways. I would like to demonstrate how the different categories of love are labelled by the Gyimesian community and the local Church and what are the frames in which they are considered legal or expected. In what kind of human situations are the similar amorous behaviors explained differently, get into a negative domain? I also wish to talk about the different contact-points that "love-models" - differing by generation and gender - may have with the effects ascribed to love magic. Moreover, I wonder when certain interpretations come into prominence, or rather which ways these models are adapted by the locals. To illustrate the Gyimesian interpretations of romantic love I invoke a medical anthropological theory called "love as sickness".

Love conceptions fulfill a special role in the Gyimesian community: the locals are able to organize and define their human relations with the help of contextually and culturally determined models. For instance they try to reconstruct the ruined relationship between parent and child, end/abolish unfulfilled desires, ensure the long-term survival of romantic love or just verify the social status of single persons. The subjective and mainly social interpretation of love and - related to it - ensuring the right "cultural recipes" can be interpreted as a structured tool of the social control and the local self-helping methods.

Reasoning the difference: Finnish wives' explanations for their multicultural marriages

Author: Kaisa Nissi (University of Jyväskylä)  email

Short Abstract

Other people's expectations and cultural stereotypes are a part of multicultral couples' lives. In this paper I examine, how Finnish wives, married to immigrant Muslim men, explain their marriages through concpet of exceptional love and practical reasons.

Long Abstract

Multicultural couples, in this case Finnish women and Muslim immigrant men, live in a situation where other people's expectations, comments and also cultural stereotypes can become a part of couples' lived experience. Reasons for this a-typical marriage are commonly asked from the wives, and couples have to explain their relationship to other people, friends, family but also for a wider society.

A multicultural marriage can be seen as an exception in a Finnish society, which is often seen as rather homogenic. Marrying a foreigner creates a difference, and so called normal, romantic love is easily questioned in these marriages. This is related to questions of what is a family and who one should marry. Finnish women confront negative comments about their relationship and they have to justify their life for other people and also for themselves.

A multicultural marriage is explained through "crazy, unexceptional love", through negative stereotypes of Finnish men and with practical reasons. It is typical in my material that these relationships are seen as exceptional compared to "normal" Finnish marriages and a romantic love is either exaggerated or underrated.

This paper is based on my PhD study, which concerns the marriages of Lutheran, Finnish women and their Muslim background immigrant husbands.

What is represented to be desired: erotic and sexual interactions and ideals of love of subjects who perform cross-dressing in a sexual exchange club in the city of Barcelona

Author: Alba Barbé i Serra (Universitat de Barcelona)  email

Short Abstract

This abstract aims to give an overview about the ideals of love and erotic&sexual practices of people who perform cross-dressing, through an ethnography that is located in a sexual exchange club in de city of Barcelona.

Long Abstract

Cross-dressing practice often appears associated with the representation and meaning of erotic experiences of the subjects who perform the practice. The fantasies, interactions and sentimental practices are linked with ideals of love that validate the representation of what should be desired. These ideals are based in naturalist criteria of romantic love present in Western societies. In the attractions and interactions that occur between the subjects who perform cross-dressing, and towards them, what is desired doesn't appear through a 'direct representation', but through what is represented to be desired.

Which is the framework around the heteronormative system where the subjects who perform cross-dressing are placed? Which is the link between cross-dressing and the erotic&sexual fantasies? Transphobia affects the conception about ideals of love and the sentimental practices of subjects? Does it affect their conceptions of desire and the sexual practices? Is there a dialogue between the meaning and experience in the cross-dressing practice, with discourses and stigmas that permeate the ideals of romantic love in the social imaginary? What happens when the attraction, the desire or sentimental practice is oriented towards someone who escapes the 'natural rules'? The ideals of love can be 'naturalized'? Finally, the ephemeral temporality of interactions and the lack of continuity ties outside the context of the club, affects sentimental practice?

Romantic love in an epic and a romance: traditional and individual

Author: Lada Buturovic (Independent researcher)  email

Short Abstract

The paper will deal with the way that romantic love works in a Bosnian epic of The Wedding of Meho Smailagic by A. Medjedovic and Erec et Enide, a Xll century romance by Chretien de Troyes. It will explore the function of romantic encounter, consistent with respective genres.

Long Abstract

The paper deals with the way that romantic love comes about, why it originates and what forms it takes on. It explores two different genres, one Bosnian epic by Avdo Medjedovic, taken down in 1934 by Milman Parry, and the other, being a romance, Erec et Enide written in ca 1170 by Chretien de Troyes. It will be about the origin of romantic love, the exploration about the union of two wonderful beings under the motif of falcon and fairy and their coming together as two opposing forces. The origin is in mythems, as union of natural forces and oral literature takes on the form of an epic and is in conformity with the genre telling a tale of extraordinary heroes. The voice all-important in the epic. the paper explores the romantic love and how it functions in a highly traditional heroic society with its eye on the past(Bakhtine). The comparison with the romance reveals the process of rising individuality with the introduction of sentiments, showing fragmentary present, however still aristocratic and chivalrous.

L´amavo più della sua vita - I loved her more than her life

Author: Marion Naeser-Lather (University of Paderborn)  email

Short Abstract

Based on discourse analysis and interviews, the paper explores the connections of different concepts of love and relationships with changing gender constructions and their circulation in (media) discourses and practices in Italy against the background of current societal developments.

Long Abstract

Italian women strive for participation and equality, illustrated by the current activities of women´s movements. Yet, traditional gender roles are promoted by political practices and social/media discourses, e.g. the religious origin of values and gender norms that is still influential and the predominant medial representation of women as desirable bodies and caretakers. Different concepts of life, love relationships and gender roles collide. Notions of independence and equality lead to uncertainties and conflicts which sometimes culminate in violence up to femicide. These phenomena have recently become more visible in the Italian society and are, in media as well as in everyday discourses, often connected with and exculpated by romantic love or passion, ascribing responsibility for the management of men´s emotions to women, reproducing the dominant symbolical order even in indignation.

How is the conceptualization of love and its manifestation in relationships affected by these processes? How are confluental vs. romantic love, how is the "indissoluble association of love, passion and their ideal durability" connected with changing gender constructions, with traditional vs. emancipatory role models, e.g. traditional ("maschilista") vs. postmodern ("maschile plurale") masculinities? How do these concepts circulate through (media) discourses, gender-related socialization processes as well as everyday-practices, and how are they formed by them through the creation of (normative) behavior expectations?

These questions are explored on the basis of a discourse analysis of media products, such as newspaper articles and films, as well as popular scientific works, discussions within the female movement and interviews with Italian men and women (2012-13).

Dating in secret: ICT's role in shaping transnational marriage practices among Kurds in Finland

Author: Anne Häkkinen (University of Jyväskylä)  email

Short Abstract

In my presentation I will discuss the Internet´s role on shaping dating and marriage practices among Kurds who live in Finland especially in situations when the dating takes place in secret and across nation-state borders.

Long Abstract

Consanguineous and arranged marriages in their different forms are common among Kurds who live in Finland. In these marriage patterns the idea of love and its connection to marriage is highly complex. The ICTs are one of the forces that are influencing traditional marriage patterns and making their relation to love even more diverse and complex.

My PhD handles transnational marriages among Kurds in Finland. The research material mainly consists of in-depth interviews. In transnational marriage I am referring to the phenomenon when migrants marry partners from their family´s country of origin or from the same cultural/ethnic background in the diaspora. This transnational activity usually contains different modes of dating when the relationship is initiated and created. In these dating practices the ICTs have a huge role not only keeping a contact across states but also creating new ways of searching a spouse.

In my presentation I will discuss the Internet´s role on shaping dating and marriage practices especially in situations when the dating takes place in secret and across nation-state borders. According to my results, the Internet gives a special private place in which interviewees can create relationships on their own terms and express their mutual affection without fear of possibly harmful rumours. Searching a spouse via the Internet supports (or is prerequisite to) more individualistic attitudes toward marriage and its relation to (romantic) love as relatives´ role in the process of finding a spouse is less important than for example in cases of arranged marriages.

The concept of love in girls' blogs in self-written lovestories

Author: Eda Kalmre (Estonian Literary Museum)  email

Short Abstract

In my paper I will analyze how girls structure their stories, whether and how they follow ealier traditional examples in writing their own stories, who are the heroes and what could be concluded about the concepts of love and happiness the girls have.

Long Abstract

Falling in love, love and happiness are one of the most prevalent subject matters in the teenage girls' blogs. These are topics which the girls use to present themselves in their interactive diaries. Love is dealt with in two contrasting ways, one of them being romantic, talking about deep feelings, worries and tragic. This is being opposed by a parody like and ironic attitude, which ridicules the former one.

In my paper I will analyze how girls structure their stories, whether and how they follow ealier traditional and literary examples, pop cultural influences in writing their own stories, who are the heroes and what could be concluded about the concepts of love and happiness the girls have.

Écrire aux défunts. La « mise en circulation » de l'amour après la mort

Author: Antonella Grossi (Università degli Studi di Messina)  email

Short Abstract

À partir d'une enquête ethnographique menée dans les cimetières, notamment ceux parisiens, on analysera le phénomène de la circulation des sentiments à travers la pratique de l'écriture de la lettre tombale, c'est-à-dire la lettre écrite pour le défunt et laissée sur sa tombe.

Long Abstract

En envisageant l'amour comme un sentiment de profonde affection envers quelqu'un ou quelque chose, la lettre tombale peut être considérée comme un instrument culturel capable de « faire circuler » l'amour qui lie les vivants aux morts. À travers cette lettre, les personnes « parlent » à leurs défunts en extériorisant les émotions et les sentiments éprouvés. Armando Petrucci (1995) définit cette typologie de lettre comme une forme d' « écriture additionnelle » (à l'inscription funéraire placée sur la pierre tombale) qui caractérise le culte des tombeaux dans la société occidentale et contemporaine. Par conséquent, on peut affirmer que la communication sentimentale postmoderne dédiée aux défunts est marquée par ce besoin de déléguer la représentation de l'amour à l'écriture. La lettre tombale permet alors une continuité relationnelle entre les vivants et les morts qui prend la forme d'un récit d'amour écrit. Sur la tombe du personnage célèbre, le récit écrit devient une rencontre biographique entre le défunt et le vivant : l'influence exercée par l'ouvrage et par la vie de la célébrité sur l'existence de l'admirateur-vivant est témoignée par la lettre. Sur la tombe de la personne commune, le récit écrit exprime surtout l'expérience douloureuse de la perte et son implication émotive. Dans les deux cas, l'amour adressé au défunt a la capacité d'animer et de structurer l'expérience tombale réalisée à travers l'acte de l'écriture.

With few changes on the Eastern front: Latvian soldiers and their correspondence during World War II

Author: Valdis Kuzmins (Latvian War Museum)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines the letter writing practices of Latvian soldiers fighting on both sides during World War II, focusing primarily on the epistolary dialogues and codes (both written and unwritten) to which such correspondence was subject to. What was the purpose of correspondence in the soldiers’ everyday life?

Long Abstract

During World War II, 120 000 Latvian citizens joined the German army, most of them conscripted against their will. On the other side at least 80 000 were mobilised to the Red Army. In the context of contemporary scholarly arguments in Latvia over the motivation soldiers might have had for fighting while exposed to the everyday dangers of brutal warfare, letters provide a valuable source for understanding why soldiers fought - or failed to fight.

The rather extensive series of letters written by Latvian soldiers and their addressees back at home allow us to observe some general trends in letter-writing, among these the surprising, almost ritual repetition of style and content throughout long correspondences. While censorship rules and their application differed even among individual units, it appears that only a small number of letters were censored. Still, the content of the letters varied minimally even if the authors were sure that the letters would not get censored, indicating that the exchange of news/information was by no means central for this circulation of contact.

In order to better understand the nature and genesis of Latvian letter-writing practices during World War II, the letters from both sides of the front will be compared with letters written during World War I, exploring letter-series from soldiers with different social backgrounds, age, gender and marital status. The paper will also consider the possible impact of the traditional “war” or “blood” incantations (widely used among soldiers) on wartime letter writing practises.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.