CFP researching love – intersectional perspectives

Minna-Kristiina Ruokonen-Engler and Ina Schaum are organizing the session “Intersectional Perspectives on Love” at the upcoming XX ISA World Congress of Sociology (June 25-July 1, 2023 in Melbourne/hybrid format).

In our session, we aim to discuss the following questions:

  • How can love be approached from an intersectional perspective?
  • How does the research topic of love and attachment shape our ethnographic encounters and our relationship to interview partners and other respondents?
  • What can we learn about power relations when we research love? How are these racialized, gendered and classed and how do they find expression in love practices and love narratives?
  • In what ways do spatial and temporal contexts shape love practices? How do social policies and political practices influence experiences and practices of love? How can love be conceptualized and investigated in a transnational context?

We invite papers that critically approach love from an interdisciplinary perspective. We particularly welcome contributions that combine different qualitative approaches with the sociology of emotions, affect theory, feminist love studies, critical race theory, intersectionality, and transnational studies.

For further information, please see:

New member of the network

Gözde Kılıç is a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow at the European University Institute, Italy 

Gözde received her PhD in Cultural Studies from Trent University in Peterborough, Canada. Her current work engages with a cultural and literaryhistory of lovesickness in early twentieth century Turkey. It explores how Turkish views of love changed during modernization when love was brought into the domain of scientific and civilizational discourse, treated as ameasurable and analytical concept. More specifically, it examines how the preeminence of biological and materialist definitions of love in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Turkey displaced earlier mystical and quasi-divine definitions, turning love into a socio-medical issue, and ultimately a vehicle for political agendas.

The Routledge Research Companion to Popular Romance Fiction’ was published last year.

The Routledge Research Companion to Popular Romance Fiction’ was published last year. It represents an impressive and comprehensive overview over the history of and research into romance fiction in (mostly) the Anglophone world, a genre much maligned and often misrepresented.

If you are unfamiliar with this vast genre but have a grounding in love history and love research you may want to read Hsu-Ming Teo’s chapter on Love in Romance Novels which gives a good introduction into the dynamic changes of the genre in the light of social & cultural change

Please welcome our newest member

Paul Cato is a Ph.D. Candidate in the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought.

His research examines Black Americans’ contributions to the practice and theorization of love – particularly those of African American author James Baldwin. He is especially interested in conceptions of love found in cultural works and those that speak to the world’s political realities. His dissertation outlines the discourse of “active love” – a decades-long conversation on political love comprised of Baldwin’s discussions with several 20th-century American intellectuals. In addition to studying Baldwin, Paul has spent much time studying the definition, conceptualization, and expression of “black love,” as well as the work of Audre Lorde, Emanuel Levinas, and Plato. His research integrates several methodologies, including close reading, archival work, and cultural criticism. His interests in interrelatedness also extend into more practical fields of human sociality such as race relations, disability studies, and social justice.

New network member Fiona Moolla

F. Fiona Moolla is a lecturer in the English Department at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. 


Against a broader interest in African and Postcolonial literature and culture, Fiona recently has focused her attention on personal relationships, especially romantic love in African modes of expression. African discourses on eros suggest the following nodes for study, all of which are currently being explored by the researcher –the preoccupation with romantic love over kinship relationships in a transition to modernity, the nexus of romantic love and marriage, romance as national and transnational allegory, African popular romance, and romance and materialism. Her publications to date in this area include the following journal articles and book chapters:  

  • “Her Heart Lies at the Feet of the Mother: Transformations of the Romance Plot in Leila Aboulela’s Minaret.” The African Journal of Gender and Religion, Vol 27, No 2.   
  • “In the heart of the country: the auto/biographies of Ayesha Dawood and Fatima Meer.” Social Dynamics. 46.1, 2020.  
  • “The Polygynous Household in Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives: A Haven in a Heartless World.” ARIEL – A Review of International English Literature. 48.1, 2017. 
  • “Time, Space, Love in Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace” in The Culture Chromosome: Time, Space and Transculturality in Amitav Ghosh’s Fiction edited by Asis De and Alessandro Vescovi, Brill, 1 November 2021.  
  • “Foundational Fictions: Variations of the Marriage Plot in Flora Nwapa’s early Anglophone-Igbo Novels.” In Routledge Handbook of African Literature edited by Carli Coetzee and Moradewun Adejunmobi. London: Routledge, 2019. 
  • “Eros and Self-Realization: Zora Neale Hurston’s Janie and Flora Nwapa’s Efuru.”Langston Hughes Review, special issue, “Black Love”. Vol. 26, no. 1, 2020.  
  • “Plotting Marriage and Love in Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine: Extended Realism in the African Novel.”  Postcolonial Text 14.1, 2019.  
  • “Romance as Epistemological Aesthetic in the Fiction of Ahdaf Soueif.” African Literature Today 35. Special Issue: Focus on Africa. 72-88. Woodbridge, Suffolk: James Currey, 2017.
  • “Love in a State of Fear: Reflections on Intimate Relations in Nuruddin Farah’s Dictatorship Novels.” Journal of the African Literature Association. Special issue, Texts, Modes and Repertoires of Living in and Beyond Apartheid. 10.1, 2016.

New network member: Jordi Roca Girona

Jordi Roca Girona is Full Professor of Social Anthropology at the Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona (Spain). 

Since 2003 he has been teaching a pioneering subject in the Spanish university on “Sex, Gender and Love” in bachelor’s, master’s, and postgraduate courses. 

His research focuses on gender, sexuality, and love studies, as well as on methodological issues and practices related to biographical memory, and ethnography. During the last 15 years he has directed 6 research projects on love migration and binational couples, conducting fieldwork in Ukraine, Mexico, and Brazil. 

In 1993 he obtained the National Prize for Anthropology (Research Prize on Popular Arts and Traditions “Marqués de Lozoya”), awarded by the Ministry of Culture of the Spanish Government, for his doctoral research published afterwards under the title “De la pureza a la maternidad”, Ministerio de Cultura, 1996. His last two books are: “Rethinking Romantic Love” (with B. Enguix), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015 and “Amores lejanos” (with M. Allué), Bellaterra, 2016. 

He has carried out research and teaching collaboration stays at various European, North American, and Latin American universities: in Mexico (UNAM, Iberoamericana, Ciesas, Quintana Roo), Brazil (Campinas, UF Rio de Janeiro, UF Rio Grande do Norte) and other countries (Berkeley, -USA-, ISCTE (Lisbon) and UTAD (Vila-real) -Portugal-, Pereira -Colombia-, amongst other).

New network member Johanna Hoorenman (Utrecht)

Johanna Hoorenman is a lecturer in English literature at Utrecht University, the Netherlands.Her research focuses on women’s historical fiction, including popular romance fiction, working across canonical and popular texts and drawing connections between contemporary romance novels and precursors in amatory fiction and sentimental novels. She is particularly interested in representations of love as a personal experience, as a civic virtue, and as a radical ethic, and by questions of sexuality, domesticity and citizenship. She has published on poetry in Arizona Quarterly and Contemporary Literature, and on historical romance fiction in Romancing the Other: Essays on Love, Language, Place and Identity in Popular Culture and in The Routledge Companion to Romantic Love. She is currently working a study of gendered conceptions of citizenship and cultural heritage in historical romance fiction, addressing the ways in which female readers read and imagine themselves into a history of Britishness and Christianity in which they have long held second-class citizenship. The first part of this research concerns settings of the Viking Age.

‘Confessions of a MILF (I chose being an artist over being a wife)’. Love and relationships in Viv Albertine’s memoirs. – Michael Gratzke

The memoirs of (post-) punk musician Viv Albertine address the issue of choice or lack thereof in romantic and family relationships. They depict a world in which choice of romantic partners appears normal if often unsuccessful, whereas choice within family relationships is restricted. It is self-evident that one cannot choose one’s blood relatives. However, amplified by Albertine’s scepticism towards any social relationships, her two memoirs represent ‘negative choice’ (Eva Illouz) in heterosexual romantic relationships and the complex ways in which negative choice can change family dynamics. In her memoirs, Albertine presents loneliness as the opposite of love which aligns with her model of choice, as it is preferable to live a lonely life over being bound up in love relationships, romantic or familial, which are harmful to one’s wellbeing. This article demonstrates how the ethos of early punk is translated into an uncompromising process of life writing which presents itself as faithfulness towards the individual’s core need for self-realisation and self-expression against the backdrop of failing romantic and familial relationships, severe physical and mental health problems, a self-diagnosis of autism and a patriarchal society.