Intimate Entanglements

The Sociological Review Foundation is delighted to bring this two-day workshop to you. Supported by the University of York's Department of Sociology and organised by Professor Daniel Lopez and Sociological Review editorial board member Professor Joanna Latimer, this workshop builds upon themes and issues of our forthcoming monograph: Intimate Entanglements.

This workshop opens-up the value of intimacy as a quality of socio-material relations in knowledge-making and communities of practice. Ethnographers and ethnomethodologists have long held the need for first-hand experience of social worlds and immersion within them if their rationales and their social significance are to be understood. Yet the intimate nature and character of these knowledge practices have seldom been fully explored. Where intimacy has been mentioned it is usually in the context of distinguishing local and experiential knowledge from universal and scientific knowledge. In contrast, as Raffles (2003) points out, intimacy can be foregrounded as a site for the social production of knowledge across the social, human and life sciences, to help rework human/nature and socio/technical boundaries.

The aim of Intimate Entanglements, is thus to foreground what is so often made invisible in extant accounts of how knowledge is done. Our aim is to articulate how socio-material life gets assembled and reassembled. This is to say that we focus on the attachments and detachments that appear crucial to understanding affective relations and ecologies inside and beyond the sciences, including the social sciences.

The specific contributions press how the ‘affective turn’, across anthropology, sociology, social psychology and Science & Technology Studies, does more than represent a ‘turn to ontology’. Rather they explore how the foregrounding of affect restructures possibilities for ‘situated knowledges’ and non-anthropocentric (‘posthuman’) modes of relatedness in different areas. In so doing the various speakers each address different aspects of how and when intimacy becomes a quality of entanglements. Issues addressed include the politics of intimacy and its different characterizations: as ordinary and dangerous, a site of alterity and “contamination” but also of attachment, belonging and companionship.  


  • Ashley Barnwell (University of Melbourne)
  • Stefana Broadbent (University College London)
  • Steve Brown (Leicester) & Paula Reavey (London South Bank University),
  • Blanca Callen (BAU Design College)
  • Nerea Calvillo (University of Warwick)
  • Florence Chiew (Macquarie University)
  • Carrie Friese (LSE)
  • Emma Garnett (King's College London)
  • Joanna Latimer (University of York)
  • Daniel Lopez (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)
  • Meritxell Ramírez-i-Ollé (Sociological Review Fellow, Keele University)
  • Tomás Sánchez Criado (Technological University, Munich)
  • Marilyn Strathern (Cambridge University) participation via pre-recorded interview
  • Mariam Motamedi-Fraser (Goldsmiths)
  • Myriam Winnance (Cermes 3, CNRS & Descartes University of Paris)


There will be 15 papers presented over the two-days of the workshop with time for discussion.

The object of the workshop is to provide an overview of the different notions of intimacy and entanglement that earlier works pose.   As well as positing material heterogeneity, our approaches each press how ‘vitality’ is an emergent property of intra-action (Barad 2003), ‘becoming with’ (Haraway 2003) or ‘being alongside’ (Latimer 2013), rather than an attribute of specific, discrete beings in relationships. By vitality we refer to the life that animates the social, including knowledge-making itself (Fraser, Kember and Lury, 2005), and which makes social and personal transformation possible. Here, the notion of intimate entanglements (Stengers 2000), is very much connected to forms of immanent relatedness (Bataille 1989), including what animates possibilities for being enrolled, emplaced and positioned (i.e. entangled), as well as for transformations and shifts (what can be called ‘becoming entangled differently’).

Additionally, the workshop will explore how ‘intimate entanglements’ are core to heterogeneous identities and forms of belonging, including notions such as “actor-networks”, “cyborgs”, “companion species”.  Our concern here is with how their processual, temporary, ongoing, partial and unstable character challenges the very idea of ‘identity’. In this regard, we press how intimate entanglements are not just those that constitute our identities but those that force us to ‘stay with the trouble’ (Haraway 2017).

The politics of intimacy will also be explored. How and when intimacy is dangerous? When it becomes a site of connection through which a sense of belonging and alterity might arise?  Here we are interested in transformations, not as ontological “givens” but rather as concrete achievements. Thus we press the notion of intimacy as an adjective to qualify relations and entanglements which are characterised by susceptibility, a sensibility of being open and vulnerable, for example as with the pragmatist notion of attachment (Gomart and Hennion 1998), or in the tensions and shiftings between ‘extensions’, as forms of detachment and attachment and partial connection (Strathern 1991).

Finally, the workshop will press how a focus on intimate entanglement is a way of unconcealing the ethics and politics of relations (Martin, Myers and Viseu 2015). We explore how intimate entanglements turning on vulnerability and openness as something inescapable, create questions about how we become attached and even responsible for entangled human and non-human others, and explore what a “good” response could be. This leads to the question of the methodological apparatuses we as social scientists envisage to cherish, or even produce, these intimate entanglements (see also Fraser and Purwar 2008).  Since these concerns pose possible connections with discussions concerning knowing (Greenhough and Roe 2011; Raffles 2003; Shrader 2015; also, Stengers 2010 and Despret 2004), we are particularly interested in how the beings we encounter in our research come to matter to us, and how our questions and concerns become relevant for them.

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