Call for Papers: Queering intimacies, families and companionships


Guest editors
Annukka Lahti, University of Eastern Finland,
Pauliina Lukinmaa, University of Eastern Finland,
Jaana Vuori, University of Eastern Finland,
Kathryn Almack, University of Hertfordshire,


LGBTQIA+ people have always been innovative in creating exciting forms of relationships and families, often against all odds. In recent discussions it is further stressed that it is necessary to imagine intimacies, families and companionships that are not limited to human relationships, genetic kinship and heterosexual nuclear family. In this special issue, we are interested in what kind of queer intimacies, families and companionships are emerging and imagined now in current Nordic contexts and beyond, including transnational contexts. In what kind of affective, discursive, material and social entanglements do they take shape and change?

During the 2000s and 2010s, LGBTQIA+ people’s relationships and families increasingly began to gain social acceptance and legal recognition in many Western countries, but this happened mainly by incorporating them into existing legally recognised models of intimacy, such as marriage and the nuclear family. As a result of this normative understanding, diverse queer lives and other ways of arranging intimate lives remain decentred. Some queer intimacies are limited to private settings and can only be publicly expressed in small and even indirect gestures (Stasińska 2020; Paternotte and Kuhar 2018). Moreover, in everyday lives, relationships are in constant flux; they are forming situationally and processually. Thus, established concepts of family and couple relationships are not always the best ways to describe the diverse queer relationships of LGBTQIA+ people. Some concepts concerning the diversity of intimate relationships are in the process of forming and are thus not fixed.  

Historically, when not acknowledged publicly, LGBTQIA+ people were possibly freer to define their relationships on their terms. Diverse intimate lives, friendship and community, played a more central role than the normative relationship forms of mainstream heterosexual society. During the last few decades reproductive technologies and adoptions have enabled LGBTQIA+ people to form new kinds of families with children (Björklund & Dahl, 2019; Dahl & Gunnarson-Payne 2014). However, the LGBTQIA+ movement's recent concentration on family rights and issues has been critiqued as 'homonormativity' that reflects the society's (hetero)normative reproduction instead of calling it into question (Edenheim 2019). It thus has been suggested that it might be fruitful to look for queer potential elsewhere (Björklund, 2018; Björklund and Dahl, 2019). Yet, we stress that it is important to pose our questions about queering intimacies, families and companionships in such ways that allow us to go beyond stabilising notions of queer, such as labelling some forms of intimacies queer and some non-queer, heteronormative or non-heternormative (Osella, 2019). 

For example, discussions about non-monogamies and asexualities challenging the monogamous couple norm are becoming more widespread. Non-monogamous and open relationships, single living, and friend networks occupying a central place in intimate life are becoming more common across LGBTQIA+ and mainstream cultures in Western societies (Roseneil, 2007). When highlighting the future directions of critical kinship studies, scholars have also stressed the need to move beyond humanist accounts of kinship (Björklund and Dahl, 2019, 13 cite Riggs and Peel, 2016). It is essential to acknowledge that intimacies emerge not only in encounters between humans but also between humans and non-humans, the material environment, nature and culture (Kolehmainen, Lahti and Lahad, forthcoming). The concept of companionship (Lykke, 2018) extends to more-than-human intimacies and can better grasp the multiple intimacies that are not captured by the current vocabularies.

Theoretically, changing intimacies, families, and partnerships can be approached from different perspectives. The scholarship of affect and post-human theorisation provide a fresh approach whereby intimacies are not limited to human relationships. Instead, intimacies are regarded as emerging through the encounters and entanglements of diverse human (e.g., partners, ex-partners, friends, relatives, children, and other people) and non-human (e.g., other species, legislation, digital technologies, housing arrangements, climate conditions) actors (Kolehmainen, Lahti and Lahad, forthcoming). Intimacies, families and companionships can be seen as emerging in the various unfolding conditions of the (heteronormative) world; they are formed through complex configurations where different elements and manifold power relations come together in temporally shifting ways (Kolehmainen and Juvonen, 2018). Exploring phenomena such as bodily practices, affective experiences, intensities, energies, gestures, routines, diverse exercises of power, ideologies, and entanglements enables us to pay attention to queer moments, surprises, halts, fractures, movements and opportunities. These could otherwise remain hidden within the ongoing process of becoming intimate relationships.

We warmly welcome empirical, methodological and theoretical articles, essays, and reviews for this special issue from Nordic contexts and beyond, as well contributions that address transnational intimacies, families and companionships. 

Submissions may address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • What forms of desiring, becoming, and failing intimacies emerge in families and companionships? Why now?
  • In what kind of affective entanglements do intimacies, families and companionships take shape and change? How are they lived and experienced?
  • How are relationship norms and hierarchies negotiated and resisted?
  • What meanings are attached to various forms of intimacies, families and companionships?

How are such diverse relational constellations named and discussed?

  • How is the future of intimacies, families and companionships envisioned?

What kind of queer political potential might new forms of intimacies, families and companionships have?

  • How are various intimacies, families and companionships understood, addressed and repressed within different institutions?
  • How can the multiple power relations and affective, relational processes entangled in intimate relationships, families and companionships be analysed?


Schedule for the Special Issue
Deadline for abstracts (max. 300 words): 28 February 2022 via email to the editors
Decisions on abstracts will be sent to authors: 15 March 2022
Deadline for first full drafts (max 6000-8000 words):  30 September 2022
Planned publication: in 2024 or 2025 



Björklund, Jenny. 2018a. “Killing Family Joy: Mothers on the Run in Twenty-First Century Swedish Literature.” Women’s Studies 47.8:806–28.

Björklund, Jenny and Dahl, Ulrika. (2019) “Editorial: Queer Kinship Revisited”, lambda nordica 24(2-3), 7-26.

Dahl, Ulrika and Gunnarsson-Payne, Jenny. (2014) “Introduction. (Re)thinking Queer Kinship and Reproduction”, lambda nordica 19(3-4): 11-27.

Edenheim, Sara. 2019. “No Kin: Between the Reproductive Paradigm and Ideals of Community.” lambda nordica 24(2–3): 29–52.

Kolehmainen, Marjo and Tuula Juvonen. 2018. “Introduction. Thinking with and Through Affective Inequalities.” In Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships, edited by Marjo Kolehmainen and Tuula Juvonen, 1–16,  New York and London: Routledge.

Kolehmainen, Marjo; Lahti, Annukka and Lahad, Kinneret. eds. Forthcoming. Affective Intimacies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Lykke, Nina. 2018. “When Death Cuts Apart: On Affective Difference, Compassionate Companionship and Lesbian Widowhood.” In Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships, edited by Marjo Kolehmainen and Tuula Juvonen, 109–126, New York and London: Routledge.

Osella, Caroline. 2019.  ‘“Tell me, What Made You Think You Were Normal?”: How Practice Will Always Outrun Theory and Why We All Need to Get Out More’ in The Everyday Makings of Heteronormativity: Cross-Cultural Explorations of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality, S. Sehlikoglu and F. G. Karioris (eds), 13-26, Lanham: Lexington Books, 2019).

Stasińska, Agta. 2020. Tender Gestures in heteronormative spaces. Displaying affection in public by families of choice in Poland. Gender, Place & Culture. 27(1): 1 –  24.

Paternotte, David., and Kuhar, Roman. 2018. “Disentangling and Locating the ‘Global Right’: Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe.” Politics and Governance 6(3): 6–19.

Riggs, Damien W., and Elizabeth Peel. 2016. Critical Kinship Studies: An Introduction to the Field. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Roseneil, Sasha. 2007. “Queer Individualization: The Transformation of Personal Life in the Early 21st Century.” NORA: Nordic Journal of Women’s Studies 15(2): 84–99.

Weston, Kath. (1995). “Forever is a Long Time: Romancing the Real in Gay Kinship Ideologies.” Naturalizing Power: Essays in Feminist Cultural Analysis, edited by S. J. Yanagisako and C. L. Delaney, 87–110, New York and London: Routledge.