Dr. Francisco Cruces Villalobos

Little Joys and Agonies of the Intimate Space

Watch the video of Dr. Cruces’s talk here.

Both happiness and intimacy are plural, fuzzy, and slippery concepts: as important in our lives as they are difficult to define. I will reflect on how they relate. Departing from a visual and collaborative ethnography on intimacy-building in three Latin cities (Madrid, Mexico City and Montevideo), I interrogate four of my informants’ micro-stories having to do with petty details of daily life. Can we draw lessons about happiness from a towel on a bed, the cleaning of a bathroom, a signature at the bottom of a closet, and the drawing of a girl holding hands with her grandpa? These little things indeed made sense to the people who shared them on camera. They talk about the poetics of intimacy, an open quest for meaning, and their ambivalent answers to a late modern problem: the imperative to become yourself.

Francisco Cruces is a professor of anthropology at UNED (Spain), where he coordinates the Urban Culture Study Group. His research focuses on forms of symbolic expression in urban settings: from music, festivals and political demonstrations to the making of intimate space, with fieldwork in Madrid, Ciudad de México, Bogotá and Montevideo. Currently he is working on Metropolitan Intimacies, a collaborative ethnography on the narratives and poetics of dwelling.

The annual MacKay Lecture Series is funded by the generous endowment of Mrs. Gladys MacKay in appreciation of the education her husband, Reverend Malcolm Ross MacKay (B.A., 1927), received in the liberal arts at Dalhousie University.

Questions? Contact mingo@dal.ca