Second CFP: LOVE IN THE DIVERSE CITY (Session 52) ISA RC21 conference | July 14-16 2021, Antwerp (Belgium)


ISA RC21 2021 annual conference “Shaping & Sensing the city. Power, people, place”

Antwerp (Belgium). July 14-16 2021

SESSION N. 52 (Re-opened)

Love in the diverse city

Lidia Manzo
​Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan (Italy)



One of the most profound effects of globalization is that people from everywhere are falling in love with people from everywhere else. Increasing migration worldwide has facilitated the unions of people from different countries, religions, ethnicities and, presumably, cultural backgrounds. Such unions are often celebrated as a sign of integration; however, the classic assimilation theory no longer suffice in tackling the growth of large cities, which are witnessing unprecedented levels of diversity.

Thus, mixed unions may do more than reflect the nature of social boundaries. In urban areas of super-diversity, there is a growing likelihood that multiple and overlapping forms of mixedness will characterize many romantic relationships and it may be that while some ethnic and racial boundaries will remain persistent, others will become more blurred and of diminishing social significance. However, despite the centrality of sexuality to the conduct and continuation of urban life, investigations of intercultural love remain curiously absent from urban studies.

Cities can be seen as roiling maelstroms of affect, love styles and spatially contextualized romantic emotions. Mixed couples and their intimate lives are the focal point at which the different aspects of the globalized world literally become embodied. They define resistance against the state’s biopolitical power to control people and become a space of intimate citizenship. At the same time, these relationships may represent a ‘quiet revolution’ that holds for re-envisioning people’s idea of ‘us and them’, challenging what it means to inhabit multiculturalism in our everyday lives. But how are people inside a family to withstand, negotiate and survive pressures that separate whole worlds from one another?

This session examines how romantic relationships between native majorities and immigrant minorities are experienced and performed at the urban scale by inviting papers that address some of the following:

*  first, in order for an intercultural couple to love one another, the two individuals need to meet. Which are their “places of the heart”? Where do they meet in the diverse city? Are these spaces permeable, opened, and available to the dating and mating between natives and migrants? We want to explore these emotional geographies of mixité by revealing the ways in which different kinds of places can elicit specific feelings of intercultural love;

*  in romantic love, individuals are apt to encounter inequality within their relationships. Yet, how are these disparities experienced? What is the role of local communities? We point to the enduring inequities inherent in the experience of love and difference in our societies and the opportunities or the obstacles that may arise in the urban milieu;

*  from a social network perspective, support or opposition from one’s social surrounding affect the course of love over its various developmental stages, including its initiation, maintenance, and termination. Thinking about young people, parental approval to an intercultural romantic relationship remains controversial and deserves more attention;

*  what the political consequences of thinking more explicitly about these topics might be?


Intercultural Love, Urban Diversity, Emotional Geographies of Mixité, Spatialities of Love, Everyday Multiculturalism


Alba, Richard, and Nancy Foner. 2015. ‘Mixed Unions and Immigrant- Group Integration in North America and Western Europe’. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciencehe ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 662 (1): 38–56.

Beck, Ulrich, and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim. 2013. Distant Love. Cambridge: Polity press.

Parisi, Rosa. 2015. ‘Practices and Rhetoric of Migrants’ Social Exclusion in Italy: Intermarriage , Work and Citizenship as Devices for the Production of Social Inequalities’. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 22 (6): 739–56.

Root, Maria P. 2001. Love’s Revolution: Interracial Marriage. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Song, Miri. 2016. ‘Multiracial People and Their Partners in Britain: Extending the Link between Intermarriage and Integration?’ Ethnicities 16 (4): 631–48.

Song, Miri, and David Parker. 1995. ‘Commonality, Difference and the Dynamics of Disclosure in in- Depth Interviewing’. Sociology 29 (2): 241–56.

Stets, Jan E., and Jonathan H. Turner, eds. n.d. Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions. New York: Sp.

Thrift, Nigel. 2008. Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect. The Dictionary Of Human Geography. New York: Routledge.


Abstracts (maximum 250 words) need to be mandatory submitted through the conference website via the following weblink: .


4 December 2020

General inquiries can also be directed to Lidia Manzo at

Notification of abstract approval is expected to take place around 20 January 2021

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