Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Dr. Sam McBean


Dr. Sam McBean

Queen Mary University of London


Intimate Networks

Funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers

1. September 2019 – 31. August 2020 at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


The network, in simple terms, is a structure that is comprised of links and nodes. While not a new concept, networks have become increasingly pervasive since the late twentieth century, both as material infrastructure and as a means of imagining connection in an increasingly complex present.This project is interested in contemporary network theory and the network as a contemporary form, exploring specifically how the desire to ‘connect’ with others and build alternative, non-genealogical kinship structures (‘networks’) is a foundational aspect of non-normative sexual cultures.This project asks, what is the promise of the network for non-heterosexual or queer intimacies? What is the link between network imaginaries and queer sociality/kinship? How might technology and new metaphors of connection structure how sexual cultures are formed, represented, and theorized? Focused on the period from the late 1980s to the present (starting from the beginning of queer theory as a discipline and the popularization of the Internet), this project considers network imaginaries, aesthetics, and forms within queer theory, as well as considers contemporary cultural objects (television, novels, digital objects, and visual art) that use network aesthetics to imagine non-heterosexual intimacies.