The panel will provide an ethnographically-grounded comparative perspective on marriage and intimate citizenship in relation to social transformations, and discuss how related institutions, practices, and discourses of intimacy are transformed in view of political and economic change.
Theorists of globalization as well as activists argue that a homogenization of intimate relations has taken place, particularly with regard to the institution of marriage. Whilst modern subjectivities previously focused on the institution of marriage, they are today said to be produced elsewhere, in particular in nationalist discourse and through agencies of the state. However, though modernity and economic integration go hand in hand with the spread of globalised frameworks of intimate relations, especially romantic love, ethnography has shown that the genealogies of, for instance, love-marriage, the nuclearization of family life, and same-sex sexualities are multi-faceted and diverse. Comparison can illuminate how marriage as an institution, discourse, and experience is variously transformed in the context of increasingly entangled intersections between private negotiations and public dialogues in law, science, or the media. In view of increased uncertainty, new representations of the self have emerged, which are no longer produced within a dominant discourse dominated by marriage, but articulate others sites of anxiety and desire, as well as personal challenges, often in relation to it. The panel will ask what the nature of the publics created around personal relationships is. It will, however, challenge simplistic assumptions about the way these new selves are constructed in relation to earlier social institutions, for example the family, parenthood, the workplace, education and politics, which still may provide the metaphors and material for an imagination of new intimate relations.