Persons, Intimacy and Love

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Welcome to the Persons, Intimacy and Love research and publishing project. Today we tend to associate intimacy with experiences which happen within the privacy of our lives or relationships. Yet intimacy is a public phenomena as well. In many and complex ways intimacy is finely woven into both the private and public dimensions of our lives, relations, sense of self and representations.

Who we are, who we claim to be and who we want to be are questions nurtured and marked by experiences of intimacy. When we think of intimacy we think of moments of significance, of meaningful experiences that become references to our sense of being and sources for personal assurance and affirmation. In this sense, intimacy occupies a constitutive place in how we conceive of ourselves and the meanings we give to the relationships we share with others and significant others. Unlike the meaning we identify with cultural and social membership, intimacy is something with which we feel strongly connected – an innermost world, a product of our will or desire, and an unfolding of who we want to be.

Yet intimacy can be both vivifying and damaging. Love and hate, joy and pain, presence and abandonment, care and violence are all dimensions within the intimacy of our lives. An intimate moment can be described as an overwhelming experience of joyful connection with somebody or as a devastating moment of utter pain and despair. The break down of relationships, moments of betrayal, the loss of trust are deeply associated with the intimacies into which we enter. Whilst not a new way of conceiving of self and our relations with others, it is possible to trace or identify particularly modern and post-modern ways of imagining or thinking about intimacy, and also of feeling and experiencing intimate bonds and relationships.

This research and conference project seeks to explore issues of intimacy and love within the context of persons and interpersonal relationships and across a range of critical, contextual and cultural perspectives. Seeking to encourage innovative inter, multi and post disciplinary dialogues, we warmly welcome papers from all disciplines which struggle to understand what it is to be a person and what it means for persons to stand in individual, social and national relationships of intimacy, love, desire and friendship.

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The project will critically engage with a number of core themes:

  • the public and private contexts of intimate relationships
  • love, desire, lust and sex
  • bonds of care, friendship and love
  • when relationships end or fail
  • caring for others
  • caring for self
  • the politics of intimacy
  • freedom, personhood and rebellion
  • persons, acquaintances and the needs of strangers

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. Out of our deliberations it is anticipated that a series of related cross context research projects will develop.