Non-monogamies and contemporary intimacies

Barcelona, ​​14-16 November 2019

Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Sala Apolo| Barcelona, Spain |

@nmci_conference | #nmci2019

Call for Contributions – Academics, activists, therapists, counsellors, etc. 

After the success of Lisbon in 2015, and Vienna in 2017, the third Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference (NMCI), to be held 14 to 16 November 2019 in Barcelona, aims to continue to bring together academics, therapists/counsellors, artists, activists and other practitioners to address the conditions, experiences, challenges, and opportunities involved in interpersonal relationships that go beyond paradigms such as compulsory monogamy or compulsory (hetero-)sexuality.

The transformations that are happening within the framework of our sex-affective relationships are crossed by an uncountable number of intersections that draw their meaning from their potentialities, but also the violence that operates in them and the subversive potential that they articulate.

The experience of love is present, in some way, in all disciplines of thought and all facets of our lives: our personal lives, our political lives, our activist spaces, our construction of individual and collective subjectivity. All those planes, all that transversality is what we want to reflect in this conference. We count on you to help us think, feel and debate how our emotions are crossed by systems of power and in what way they also overflow those systems.

The rise in critical discourses regarding normative sexualities and intimacies (and the ways in which these two elements interact) calls into question the traditional paradigm of lifestyles that have been at the core of the sex–gender system, as well as hetero-mono-normative institutions and practices in general, allowing too the consideration of experiences like kink/BDSM to arise as other modes of contemporary intimacies. The approaches sought by NMCI are critical, multi-/transdisciplinary, and intersectional.


With NMCI, we intend to bring together people from a variety of backgrounds in order to foster a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences, as well as opportunities for collaboration and solidarity. We are looking for academic, artistic and activist contributions. Activists individuals or groups are welcome to propose workshops, debates, encounters and any other form of contributions that can add content to the common debate…

We invite you to participate in this main but not excluding lines:  

– New forms of violence in contemporary consensually non-monogamous relationships: 

– Racism and Islamophobia, and the way a Westernized conceptualization of non-monogamies interacts with non-Eurocentric families and societies;

– Social movements and sexual-affective relationships a (sometimes invisible) part of all social movements; strategies for the communitary management of loves and hurt;

And also:

– The meso-geographical impact on experiences of contemporary intimacies (e.g.: rurality);

Sex work, pornographies (mainstream or otherwise) and other capitalist-sexual crossovers within the broader field of intimacies;

Lived experiences of polyamory, swinging, open couples and other non-monogamies;

Non-sexual and/or non-romantic relationships and emerging identities, such as asexuality and aromanticism;

Intersections between non-monogamies/contemporary intimacies and race, migration, sex–gender, sexual orientation, kink, class, culture, dis/ability, education;

– Challenges and realities in psychotherapeutic/counselling practice around consensual non-monogamies and other non-normative intimacies;

– Changes in concepts and representations of coupledom, and associated challenges;

Tensions and transformations in academic and common definitions and understandings of partnerships, friendships, kinship, and other forms of connecting;

– Specificities of cultural practices and values regarding transformations in contemporary intimacies in non-Global North countries;

Histories, herstories, and queerstories of non-monogamies and contemporary intimacies, grounded in specific times and places;

Activism and community-building around non-monogamies;

Differences, overlaps, and intersections between consensual and non-consensual non-monogamies, and their power relationships;

Legal and fiscal implications and challenges around non-monogamies;

Transformations in the meanings and practices of coupledom;

The roles of technologies in transforming social relations and intimacies;

– Discourses on the (e.g., genetic or evolutionary) naturalness of monogamy or of non-monogamy;

– Sexual/emotional/… infidelity;

– Intersections between non-monogamies and feminist theories, LGBT studies, gender and queer studies, post/decolonialism and other anti-oppressive strands;

(Public) health and non-monogamies; public health and ageing sexual and gender minorities (e.g. LGBTIQ*);

– Connections between religion and hegemonic non-monogamies;

New normativities and new resistances: polynormativity and relationship anarchy, neo-liberalism and political contestation;

– Non-normative intimacies in literature, art, cinema, television, photography, theatre, music, or other media.

Accessibility & language

The conference’s common languages will be CatalanSpanish and English, and abstracts may be submitted in any of those languages.

We are dedicated to providing an inclusive, safe and harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of personal/professional and financial background, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, dis-/ability, physical appearance, body size, race, class, age or religion.

The venues are wheelchair accessible. If you have additional accessibility requirements (e.g. sign-language interpreting), please contact us via e-mail. We will do our best to provide for everyone’s requirements. If you are not sure whether your particular set of requirements ‘counts’, please e-mail us anyways!


Our goal is community-building within and beyond academia, art, activism, psychotherapy/counselling, community etc., challenging conventional models of the hegemonic Global North system of knowledge production. We are therefore open to a variety of formats and encourage the submission not only of academic papers and thematic panels, but also round-table discussions, workshops, storytelling, project presentations, performances, film screenings, debates, installations, activist-driven reflections, reflexive exercises, and other formats. We will not expect or reward academic language over other modes of expression, so please feel free to explain your proposal in your own words, keeping in mind the importance of accessible language.  

Contributions should normally take 20 minutes, but we are open to other timeframes depending on your requirements.

Please send abstracts or proposals (up to 250 words for individual submissions and up to 500 words for panel submissions), a short bio (up to 50 words), and your contact details (name, e-mail and phone number) to by 31 july 2019. If applicable, please also include information about your technical/spatial/temporal/etc. requirements.

Also, we will have a specific space for book launching. Send us your proposals!

Review of “Polyamorie” by Marta Pombo Salles, Barcelona

 I am deeply grateful to Marta Pombo Sallés , a German and English teacher working in a high school near Barcelona, for reading my book. I am thrilled to present her review below:


I think this is a very well written book. It has a clear structure and the research has been done methodically. It gives evidence that monogamy is a social construction serving to the kind of society we have created mainly in our Western culture. This social construction serves our capitalism system, which is interested in minorising other communities such as non-monogamous people among others. The ultimate aim of capitalism is to break these communities apart because they are a threat to this system, that is, to the so called nuclear family, where especially the white heterosexual father plays the main role. He is the one that succeeds and earns most. However, I think this is actually a paradox in itself because capitalism is also destructive for the nuclear family. If people have to work more hours, earn less money but enough to be functional consumers, this psychical and physiological load caused by overwork and low wages leads to anxiety, depression and other illnesses which destroy traditional families too.

In Polyamorie the established monogamous norms are being questioned by the interviewed people the author uses for her research. In fact, they all experience a changing process in their lives that moves them from a monogamous world into polyamory. This process is painful but the solution they find afterwards is successful. It is not that they are against monogamy, it is just that they do not fit into this pattern as human beings. They all end up finding polyamory as the only possible option for themselves. In this sense they are building new ways of inclusive communities in our society. By doing so they act in a very responsible way as opposed to what is often considered as frivolous or superficial promiscuity from a monogamous point of view.

I think polyamory is an option that some people will encounter in their lives, which makes sense because we are not monogamous by nature but by the already mentioned social construction. The personal process from monogamy towards polyamory is certainly due to be painful. However, in monogamous relationships hidden affairs are also painful, especially when they are discovered. Some people may lose the relationships with the people they love: the wife or the husband and the other relationship(s). This happens to one of the interviewed people in Sina Muscarina’s book, Walter, and that makes him enter a process of personal development that changes his life towards polyamory. He ends up having more open relationships that he defines as amorous friendships. The question is: What kind of love cannot be painful? We very often hurt the person(s) we love without wanting to because we do it unconsciously. For me the ideal love relationships among human beings, at least where hurting the other(s) could be avoided as much as possible, would probably be trying to fit into one of these three patterns:

1- the traditional monogamous love relationship avoiding sexual relationships with other people. A very important thing we should not underestimate about monogamy is that it has been a marvelous tool to reach equal rights for men and women. Only one partner for each as opposed to polygamous communities where unfortunately and, in the majority of the cases, women are just child factories.
The monogamous pattern has also been extended to homosexual people.REPORT THIS AD

2- a kind of more open relationship where the two partners (maybe even more partners?) have a primary relationship that is not strictly monogamous but, working on an initial consensus from the parties involved, allows secondary relationships. This kind of relationship would be similar to Ellen’s case in Polyamorie.

3- complete polyamory from the beginning and working on an initial consensus from all the parties involved and with no hierarchies between primary and secondary relationships. This would be Walter’s case in the book but we could also find some examples of this kind of relationships in the hippy communities from the 60s and 70s.

In any of the three cases, consensus must always be based on a non-possessive kind of relationship.

The other important issue is whether people want to have children, their own or adopted. In all cases I think it is absolutely vital for these children to have emotional stability guaranteed. They need clear patterns according to the kind of love relationship the adults choose.

There are other kinds of human relationships like simply wanting to have sex with another person or more people. This is like playing a game and having fun. Again if there is an initial consensus and things are clear from the very beginning it is very likely to work, as long as none of the people involved ends up falling in love with the other accidentally. However, I would not consider purely sexual relationships love. It is just sex. In my opinion this is rather incompleteand therefore shallow although I do respect people who do it, of course. I think many of us (and here I also include myself) have gone through this phase in our lives.REPORT THIS AD

Going back to “Polyamorie”, the interviewed people undergo a process of personal change. They get in touch with communities of people who have had similar life processes. These communities play a helping role as they act as therapy. They contribute to the healing process.

I believe that the main aim of “Polyamorie”, at least what I think Sina Muscarina has intended to do in her research, is to create an awareness in the readers that polyamorists are not frivolous or psychologically disfunctional people and that their options cannot and should not be understood from a monogamous point of view, which also relates to other aspects of our world such as ecology, for instance.

Catalan polyamorist writer Brigitte Vasallo also talks about other kinds of “monogamies” in our society. A clear example, and that is something not new for us Catalans, is the relationship between Spain and Catalonia. It is often regarded as a divorce, again from a monogamous point of view. As a Catalan I understand this very well. In general, we human beings need to break free from many “monogamies” of our present society such as the weapon business, responsible for many people dying in wars every day or other issues like car abuse in our cities. Some people are literally “married to cars”. The car dominance and, let us say it clearly, its dictatorship, is causing pollution, climate change, accidents, obesity and earlier deaths. In contrast, sustainable mobility alternatives such as public transport and bicycles are still being discriminated.

The concept of polyamory goes really far beyond love relationships.

You will find the book here

Marta Pomobo Salles blog you will find here