Beyond Inclusion: Non-Monogamies Before the Law

My presentation results from intersecting three lines of inquiry. The first one aims to understand, drawing on the case of the Spanish law, the extent to which monogamy operates not only as a constitutive element of marriage-like institutions and of certain pieces of legislation but, also, as meta-judicial frame of the legislative system. As such, it conditions court rulings that pertain to the slippery terrain of the legal concept of “public order”—some legal scholars even refer to, much more specifically, to the concept of “family public order” (García Presas, 2010)—which, due to its interpretive and performative nature, fall beyond the scope of the Spanish Civil and Penal Codes.

The second one explores the effects of the monogamously structured legal frame in the privilege-driven logic that regulates the access to a complex set of economic benefits and legal protections, including immigration related rights, in order to show the extent to which monogamy is part of the grounding structure of an exclusionary constitution of citizenship.

The third one, finally, attempts to offer a view of non-monogamies as a paramount space of resistance when it comes to re-imagine the relation between the state and the intimate realm beyond the mere inclusion of polyamorous and other non-monogamous intimate relationships (notably polygamy) in marriage-like institutions.

The conclusions of the paper articulate the dissonances between its three sections in order to understand –or to highlight the difficulties to understand- the inflexible mononormativity of the Spanish legal system, the general lack of legal struggles around non-monogamies (Aviram, 2008) and the set of everyday difficulties, expectations, frustrations and criticisms referred by the polyamorous interviewees in relation to this lack of legal recognition.

*This paper draws on semi-structured and biographical interviews held in the frame of the project INTIMATE – Citizenship, Care and Choice: The micro politics of intimacy in Southern Europe (Starting Grant n. 338452), which is a 5-year long project funded by the European Research Council and hosted by the Center of Social Studies at the University of Coimbra. It involves an interdisciplinary team of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese researchers.