School of Sociology and Social Policy

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Juan Anzola

Postgraduate Research Student, Faculty of Social Sciences



I have a degree in Government and International Relations (BA) from the Universidad Externado, Colombia and an MA in Gender, Society and Representation from University College, London (UCL). My research interests are focused in the areas of gender, sexualities, queer studies and migration. Before joining the University of Nottingham, I worked as an intern in a Colombian organisation aiding war victims and displaced communities, and later, I travelled to Mexico City where I also completed an internship at a non-profit organisation called Semillas, a women's fund aiming to empower women in political, economic and social terms. Currently, and in parallel with my PhD, I also work in a local advice centre in Nottingham, where we are trying to assess the impact of the recent changes in the weflare system and their impact on those who most need it.

As a researcher, I'm committed to the development of social research that embraces both, diversity and interdisciplinarity.

Research Summary

Working title: Words and things that matter: exploring culturally diverse same-sex intimacies through personal narratives and domestic materiality.

Research supervisors: Dr. Elisabetta Zontini and Prof. Andrew Yip

Funding: Vice Chancellor's Scholarship for Research Excellence (Non-EU), University of Nottingham

The convergence of two main factors explains the birth of this study: the first one is attributed to the progress and pressures of migration and globalisation trends; and the second one pertains to the greater visibility and (formal) acceptance of same-sex relationships in the West. The project aims to explore the negotiations and challenges faced by non-heterosexual relationships in the construction of intimacy, focusing exclusively in situations where migration is part of the picture. Respectively, I will examine the intimate life of same-sex coupled relationships in cases where one of the partners was born and raised in the United Kingdom (UK), while the other does not follow any of these conditions. For practical purposes, I will refer from to these arrangements as culturally diverse same-sex relationships.[1] Though volumes exploring the experience of individuals and families in relation to migration and transnationalism exist, the non-heterosexual subject is still very much absent from a lot of sociological studies on migration and family in the UK, and in this way, this study intends to fill that gap.

It is one of the main intentions of this research to investigate how a diversity of understandings and expectations surrounding family and kinship interact in intimate spaces where different cultures cohabit. Hopefully it will provide gay men, lesbians and other non-heterosexuals in culturally diverse relationships additional tools to reflect on their lives, their belongings, their citizenship status, and the value that is politically and socially bestowed on to their relationships, families and overall personal commitments.

In order to tell the "stories" of individuals in these relationships, the research will be carried out using an ethnographic methodological approach. Therefore, it will require 1) multiple visits and interviews to the individuals in the culturally diverse same-sex relationships selected for the study, and 2) careful and reflexive context observation, focusing on material culture and spaces at the home(s).

In the end, this piece will hopefully provide a faithful representation of the experiences and 'transnational' encounters faced by these relationships. I hope to contribute to the body of work already available in the sociological studies of intimacies, migration studies and material culture studies, while also, highlighting the intersections between kinship, family, migration, and sexuality. The study's content will insist on how intimate commitments and sexuality are important when understanding the mobile, migratory and transnational experiences of non-heterosexuals.

[1] While I have decided to focus my research on couples to begin with, this does not rule out the possibility of including different types of relationships and arrangements along the way.

Past Research

Past research includes examinations of the situation of women and LGBTs in the Colombian conflict, while my MA dissertation explored the notions of sexual citizenship and marriage in the U.S. context.

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