New publications

We would like to draw your attention to:

LGBT ‘Communities’ and the (Self-)regulation and Shaping of Intimacy Eleanor Formby…/10.1177/1360780420974031

Reclaiming the Second Phase of Life? Intersectionality, Empowerment and Respectability in Midlife Romance Sarah Milton, Kaveri Qureshi…/10.1177/1360780420974690

Discordant Expectations of Global Intimacy: Desire and Inequality in Commercial Surrogacy Kristen E Cheney…/10.1177/1360780420984169

Traditional Inequalities and Inequalities of Tradition: Gender, Weddings, and Whiteness Julia Carter…/10.1177/1360780421990021

Does Love Always Come Before Marriage?

William Jankowiak & Alex Nelson

Arranged marriages and love marriages are sometimes seen as cultural opposites, but it’s far more complicated. Anthropology shows how love and marriage are entwined in many different ways.

Dr Deborah Bailey-Rodriguez:
Covid-19: love in lockdown – podcast | Science | The Guardian

Mini review of Eva Illouz, The End of Love

Michael Gratzke:

Eva Illouz has published several books on the history and sociology of love. Her contribution to the academic research into love and its popularisation has been remarkable. In this latest love-themed book, Illouz looks at various ways in which love ends.

A large portion of the book is dedicated to her tracing of sexual liberation, sexiness-as-commodity and ‘scopic capitalism’. Her main argument is that the detraditionalization of society (in the Western World) has created an environment in which sex, relationships and love have been decoupled. Without strong cultural frameworks regulating their interactions, such as the middle-class preoccupation with the core family as the single site for love, sex, procreation and economic security which was the dominant model ca. 1850s to 1950s, actors lack the safety of normative, ontological and emotional certainties. This is a take on Illouz’ previous work on choice, technologies of choice and the ways in which they overburden the individual.

Illouz sees the ways in which people enter and end relationships in the first two decades of the 21st century as evidence for a negative sociality based on the lack of certainties and consequently ‘muddled wills’. People don’t know what they are supposed to feel and, therefore, do not know what they are supposed to do.

Dating apps and their associated behaviours, ghosting, divorce rates which remain high, men’s unwillingness to commit, women’s overwhelming desire to be recognised in their full emotionality are brought in evidence. Many of the examples from interviews, literature and internet sources point at what Lyotard would have described as a différend: two parties who cannot resolve their conflict because there is no shared frame of reference for what the conflict is, such as a woman who feels hurt because the man did not invite her to his house warming party for his close friends – because they had agreed that their were fuckbuddies and not friends with benefits.  

To me, the book has some weaknesses in the way it generalises male and female heterosexual behaviour, although it has to be mentioned that for this book Illouz interviewed gay and lesbian people as well, which she did to a much lesser extent in previous studies. 

The strength of the book lies in its wide historical and philosophical range which is thought provoking.

CFP: Love “Apocalypse”: New Intimacies and the Decline of Marriage and Fertility

Dear Colleagues,

We are exploring the feasibility of putting together an organized session at the AAA Annual Meeting in November that would later be transformed into an edited book on emergent formations in contemporary intimate relationships and their direct impact on rates of marriage and fertility in societies where these rates are in decline. If your work engages these themes, please consider our Call for Papers detailed below:

Call for Papers: AAA Panel and Edited Volume

Title: Love “Apocalypse”: New Intimacies and the Decline of Marriage and Fertility

Organizers/Editors: Victor de Munck, William Jankowiak & Alex Nelson

Marriage and fertility rates in much of the world are in decline. In most wealthy nations the rate of marriage is in decline. Most of these nations have likewise experienced childbirth rates well below the level of replacement (2.1), with some countries reaching rates less than half of that level. This panel, planned for the 2020 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, and the edited volume it aims to produce, will explore recent cultural shifts in intimate relationships, including conceptions and practices of love, sex, marriage, family and parenting, examining their direct impact on declining marriage and fertility rates. In particular, we seek ethnographic accounts from societies where these rates are lowest, including (but not limited to): Puerto Rico, Singapore, Italy, Portugal, Ukraine, Argentina, Slovenia, Chile, France, Mexico, Iceland, Japan, UAE, Thailand, and Brazil. We currently have abstracts on Lithuania, China, and South Korea and are expecting and anticipate two more, from Spain and Cuba respectively. We aim to achieve as much regional diversity as possible.

We seek ethnographically grounded accounts of emergent family and intimate formations that explicitly theorize relationships between those emerging practices and conceptions of family, sex, love, and marriage, and how those practices have contributed to, or will affect, declining fertility and marriage rates in those contexts. Emergent patterns in intimate relationships of interest include, but are not limited to:

Shifts from joint to nuclear families

Shift from nuclear to single parent families

Impacts of IVF and Surrogacy on family formations


Adoption and foster parenting

Long distance relationships 

Couples regularly separated by migration or long commutes

Open relationships

The rise of companionate marriage

The de-ritualization of courtship

The Child-free movement

Economic barriers to marriage and childrearing

Contributors will provide an ethnographic account of recent transformations in intimate relations or of an emergent intimate relationship formation in a specified cultural context. They should additionally discuss the implications of these transformations or formations for national marriage and fertility rates. Contributors will be encouraged to summarize current discourses and approaches addressing marriage and fertility rate declines, such as whether they are problematized in public discourse, and to briefly discuss possible interventions that would address the needs of one’s informants. Contributors may also discuss whether declines in marriage and fertility ought to be understood as a problem at all from the perspective of one’s informants or from a theoretical standpoint. Our aim with the volume is not to sensationalize emergent trends in intimate relationships. We hope to place global trends in comparative ethnographic contexts while illustrating that these transformations, and the social changes creating them, have society-wide implications and are not matters of generational or personal character.

Participation Details:

We first and foremost seek contributors to provide chapters for an edited volume. We have had preliminary discussions with several interested university and academic presses and will submit our proposal once establishing the complete list of contributors. We encourage those contributing to present as part of our panel at the AAA Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO, USA (November 18th-22nd), but attending and presenting are not required in order to contribute to the volume.

We request those interested in joining this enterprise to email us indicating whether you wish to be on the AAA panel and provide a 250-word (Max) abstract of your proposed chapter and its title. If you wish to join the panel, please submit your name, affiliation, chapter title, and abstract by March 27th, 2020. Please note that those included on the AAA panel must be or become AAA members and register for the conference before the panel proposal can be submitted. If you do not wish to join the panel but would like to contribute a chapter, please let us know by March 27th and submit your name, affiliation, chapter title, and a 250-word abstract to us via email by April 3rd, 2020. It may also be possible to contribute a paper to the panel without joining the volume, though preference may be given to those who can participate in both.  

To optimize the quality and affordability of the volume, we currently plan on keeping the number of chapters to nine, including the introduction. Expansion could be possible depending on negotiations with the publisher. If we receive more abstracts than we can include, we will select those that maximize the panel’s diversity by region, relationship type, theoretical perspective, and other criteria, while also prioritizing contributions that best address the questions outlined in this CFP to assure the volume is cohesive.

Working Timeline:

March 9th – Put out call for papers

March 27th, 2020 – Due date for AAA paper Abstracts

March 31st, 2020 – Inform participants of inclusion on the panel

April 3rd, 2020 – Deadline for abstracts from chapter contributors not presenting on the panel

April 8th, 2020 – Final deadline to submit panel to the AAA

November 11th, 2020 – Complete panel papers due

November 18th – 22nd 2020 – AAA Conference 

January 8th Complete Chapter Manuscripts due

March 8th, 2021 – Receive Reviewer/Editor Feedback

May 1st, 2021 – Submit Revised Chapter Manuscript

June 1st, 2021 – Complete book manuscript submitted to publisher

December 1st, 2021 – Anticipated Publication

We look forward to your submissions! Feel free to share this CFP on relevant listservs or with colleagues engaged in relevant work. Please do not hesitate to inquire with questions about the project. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Victor de Munck

Department of Anthropology

SUNY New Palz


William Jankowiak

Department of Anthropology

University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Alex Nelson

Department of Anthropology

University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Call for papers: Decolonising Families and Relationships

Decolonising Families and Relationships

A symposium organized by the BSA Families and Relationships Study Group

Friday 11th September 2020, UCL London

The aim of this one-day symposium is to bring together scholars working on families and relationships to share experiences, promote mutual learning and encourage development in the decolonisation of our subject area. The study of ‘the’ family has long been critiqued for its heteronormativity, whiteness and reproduction of specific, privileged family forms. In recent decades, families and relationship scholarship has expanded and adapted to these challenges, attending to an increasingly diverse range of relationships and non-normative households. However, progress has been slow, and overall, research remains predominantly white in its focus, and citation practices indicate the privileging of male scholars from the global north. As Gurminder Bhambra (2008) points out, sociological imaginations are limited when they are premised on Eurocentric assumptions.  As part of the endeavourfor ‘connected sociologies’, this event will explore new ways of thinking about and understanding families and relationships by drawing on global knowledge, and by examining the forces which have shaped our scholarship. In doing so, we will explore new avenues which challenge expectations of what families are and what they do, drawing on marginal experiences and voices, in ways which situate ’British sociology’ within the international milieu. 

We therefore seek contributions which expand sociological imaginations by: presenting research findings which complicate the white, heteronormative, nuclear understanding of families; methodological and theoretical approaches that contribute to the decolonising of families and relationships research; sharing scholarship from beyond the global north; or by (re)visiting and challenging the Euro-American dominance of our research area. We anticipate producing an edited volume, special journal issue or teaching resource from the workshop – we welcome any ideas from participants.

To submit a paper:

Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words to Dr Julie Walsh at along with a bio of 150 words, by Friday 17th April 2020. Please submit your abstract and bio as one Word document attached to your email. We will notify applicants of our decisions on individual paper proposals by the end of April 2020.

The event will take place in UCL London on Friday 11th September 2020.

Please note: We will facilitate video presentations and live streamed Q&As with presenters who would prefer to participate remotely. Please make a note in your submission if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity.

How the Story Ends: Gender, Sexuality, and Nation in the Happy Ending

How the Story Ends: Gender, Sexuality, and Nation in the Happy Ending
Heather Schell and Katherine Larsen

The happy ending is often considered a particularly pernicious form of American pabulum, something that is too easy, simplistic, and pleasurable to be trusted or valued. While happy endings to narratives are common, little critical work has been done to define and analyse this trope in more than a cursory way. We invited a number of people in relevant fields and professions to respond to a handful of prompts about the happy ending. We then adopted Kenneth Burke’s (1973) metaphor of scholarship as conversation (110), weaving their ideas together creating a dynamic, polyphonic exploration of the happy ending.

New Member: Christina Straub

Christina Straub is a PhD student in Criminology/Sociology at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom

As a contribution to the effects and pains of imprisonment literature, Christina´s PhD examines one influencing variable in the lives of prisoners serving long sentences in English prisons: the absence and presence of love. Exploring themes of deprivation vs nurturance,dysfunction vs resilience, sickness vs health, her research also endeavours to provide a broader insight and understanding of the role of love as human virtue and human need in human development. As part of her theoretical groundwork, she has conducted a multi-disciplinary concept analysis, reviewing and comparing literature from the fields of sociology, neurosciences, psychology and moral philosophy on the topic of love within a social-ecological framework.


Ultimately, her research wants to raise a few critical questions: Should love matter in the set-up and experience of prison? If so, why or why not? What is at stake, if we leave love as essential human need out of consideration when designing and running state institutions such as (but not limited to) prisons?

New member: Lauren Edwards

Lauren Edwards is a PhD student at York University in Toronto, Canada.
Lauren’s doctoral research project asks – can there be love without object or beloved? Love is often defined as a particular lover/beloved relation – love is the union of lover and beloved; love is the recognition of value in or bestowal of value upon the beloved by the lover; or love is the emotional response of the lover to the beloved. Definitions like these make the beloved essential to what love is; but is it? Drawing on feminist theory, analytic and continental philosophy, quantum physics, and neuroscience, I hope to argue that it is not; that there is a type of love without object, an intransitive love, and that our theories of what love is must be re-thought.


Joanne Begiato, Constructing family relationships through things

In the past, just as now, family relationships sometimes needed to be maintained across distances. Today Facebook does the job well, with family members staying in touch by posting short comments, and very often sharing photographs of the activities and the loved ones’ material world. These statuses root people in their familiar (sometimes unfamiliar) surroundings, acting as both reminder and reassurance for family members and sustaining and sometimes forging familial contact...