Dis-orienting Polyamory: Preserving Poly's Transformative Potential
Cheshire, Liane Celine Marie
MetadataShow full item record
Drawing on the narratives of 21 people practicing polyamory in the city of Guelph, ON, this study explores how participants define and conceptualize polyamory, in general, and in relation to their self-concept. Drawing on grounded theory, autoethnography and narrative analysis, this study presents a range of definitions and subjective meanings of polyamory. This dissertation argues that people understand polyamory in a range of ways and that there is no single unified definition of polyamory nor a standard way of conceptualizing polyamory in relation to self-concept. The narratives demonstrate that the fluidity and diversity of definitions and conceptions of polyamory afford participants the opportunity to adapt polyamory to their individual situations. While some participants define polyamory in ways that reproduce sexual normalcy by claiming essentialist identities and privileging love, other participants define polyamory in ways that enable them to resist heteronormative and homonormative monogamy and transform their relationship dynamics. Some participants understand polyamory as interconnected with their queer, feminist, and anarchist politics. Participants who identify as asexual, or who have mental health challenges, conceptualize polyamory in ways that allow them to transform their relationships in non-normative ways. The narratives reveal that none of the participants constructs polyamory as a sexual orientation or as one distinct thing. Resisting the move to define polyamory as a sexual orientation, what I call dis-orienting polyamory, preserves the radical politics and transformative potentials that polyamory offers polyamorists.