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Regulating Intimacy

One-day workshop University of Kent, Saturday 4 March 2006 (provisional date) Quiet Staff Common Room, Keynes College, University of Kent

This workshop departs from more conventional forms of academic workshop. It will not be organised around speakers presenting papers on their research etc. Instead the workshop is focused on bringing together members of the Centre with a research interest in the regulation of intimacy to exchange views, deepen our individual and collective knowledge and foster networks and collaboration (formal and informal).

Although there will be panels and short presentations the presenters will be asked to address particular themes and provide overviews and critiques which will form the basis of general and extended discussion. In this way, we will all have the opportunity both to share our work and ideas and attempt to locate them within some general themes which provide the bridge for connecting different research endeavours within the Centre. Suggested themes and the general research context are further elaborated below.

Outline and themes

Within the normative framework of liberalism, intimate relations have traditionally been viewed as outside the scope of legal regulation, as part of a domain of privacy from which the state should properly be excluded. However, a key focus of feminist and other critical theoretical approaches has been to dispel the idea that intimacy is unregulated and to question the coherence, viability and ideological effects of the public/private dichotomy. Increasingly it is acknowledged that intimate relations are a key site of regulation and governance. This workshop will endeavour to move beyond a critique of the public/private dichotomy as the primary critical tool for viewing issues of intimacy and law to consider intimacy within a governance and regulation framework. Such a framework is concerned with identifying the range of techniques through which rule or governance occurs and with analysing the many ways of disciplining, controlling, obtaining, segregating, classifying and ordering subjects. This workshop will focus on the techniques, processes, rationalities and normative structures which operate in the context of intimate relations as well as notions of gender, sexuality, race, class etc as they emerge therein.

The workshop will be organised around three main themes:

• Conceptions of intimacy
• Intimacy and autonomy
• Intimacy and (re)distribution.

The first theme captures a clutch of issues around how intimacy is or may be conceived within regulatory and governance frameworks and the normative implications of such conceptions. Intimacy may be posited in terms of sex, sexuality, heterosexuality, monogamy, friendship, and family. These are all key terms for interrogation in the context of enquiries into the regulation of intimacy.

The second theme engages with tensions between notions of intimacy and autonomy for example in the context of sexuality, violence, reproduction and medical treatment. To what extent do notions of intimacy depend on particular conceptions of autonomy; when does intimacy violate autonomy; can the recasting of ideas of autonomy pave the way for more liberating, less oppressive conceptions of intimacy? Or are the concepts inevitably in tension?

The final theme addresses the various ways in which conceptions of intimacy are bound up with issues of regulation, for example in the context of work relations and/or the allocation of rights and entitlements in relation to the family home and the disposition of personal property. This theme also allows for a direct focus on the implication of intimacy in inequality, whether in a local or global context.

Word Doc for downloading Regulating Intimacy Workshop Report

For more information, please contact Joanne Conaghan

Law school Kent University

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