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


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