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30 April, 2015 Professor Valerie Hey Post-post-structuralism? The Sensual(ist) Turn or Thinking Affects.

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Presentation on theme: "30 April, 2015 Professor Valerie Hey Post-post-structuralism? The Sensual(ist) Turn or Thinking Affects."— Presentation transcript:

1 30 April, 2015 Professor Valerie Hey Post-post-structuralism? The Sensual(ist) Turn or Thinking Affects

2 Aims of the Session  To acknowledge the role of emotions in feminist politics and ideas  To explore the feminist remaking of the discipline of sociology  To situate and describe further intellectual trends & resources comprising ‘the affective turn’  To describe research framed by a psycho-social optic  To site the Academy as affect-bearing and distributing  To invite comments on some implications 30 April, 2015

3 Feminism’s politics and embodied experience is more than a ‘turn’  The politicisation of ‘experience’ involved action and theory-making  The production of a new language of analysis  The jouissance and ‘ugly feelings’ of women’s liberation  Identities and difference

4 Feminists In the Academy : ‘The war of conceptual attrition’  Sociology’s grammar focussed on the public sphere, the world of paid labour, took gender & the ‘family’ as normative. Atheoretical ‘naturalistic’ version of bodies emotions, feelings.  Knowledge wars or ‘The dirty history of feminism and sociology: or the war of conceptual attrition’ (Skeggs, 2008) 30 April, 2015

5 A Sociology without Feeling: : A Poststructuralism without Passion?  Sociology is neither sensual nor about the sensate: ‘...sociology is conspicuously inadequate …Physicality, humanity, imagination, the other, fear, the limits of control: all are missing in their own terms, in their own dynamic...[in order to produce insights which are] ‘imaginative, sensual even, in that they speak to experience, which includes the senses rather than simply cognition’ (Barrett, M. 2000).  Discursive ‘determinism’ ? or is there (theoretical) life beyond Foucault? 30 April, 2015

6 CCCS: Representing feminism Hall talks of the reconstruction enacted by feminism as : ‘ a thief in the night, it broke in, interrupted, made an unseemly noise, seized the time, crapped on the table of cultural studies’ (Hall, 1992:282)

7 The Emergence of the Psychosocial as an Optic 30 April, 2015  Explosion of wider academic interest in identity as ‘a becoming’ implicating feelings, emotion and affect = plural vocabularies express different disciplines conceptual vocabulary  Inter-disciplinary work across Psychology and Sociology - now entangled + neuroscience  Cultural Studies encompassed the aesthetic and embodied aspects of life - feelings, emotions, affects – the conscious and unconscious – desire, investments

8 Unstable Objects: Emotion or Affects? Wetherell’s account of affect & emotion includes the way emotion is understood in psychology as a grammar for describing singular bodily states (fear, shame, pride, etc.) as well as the affective covering a ‘wilder more encompassing project highlighting difference, process and force’ (2012, 2). Probyn, in contrast, splits the difference in the opposite way : ‘A basic distinction is that emotion refers to cultural and social expression, whereas affects are of a biological and physiological nature’ (2005: 11). 30 April, 2015

9 The virtue of hospitality to different theories 30 April, 2015 Clarke’s recent helpful review of ‘psycho- analytic sociology’ (2006) advocates that we recognise, in the complex legacy of work on emotions, an effort in the best work to try and hold onto rather than eliminate the tensions between the biological, the interactional, social constructionism and psycho-analysis rather than adopt a prematurely inflexible and unhelpful position—one that defines ‘the field of emotions’ with certainty. This requires a deference and respect to the different provenance of ideas which in their nature bring ambiguity and fragility in their wake. (Leathwood & Hey 2009 p 431).

10 It’s OK to be confused! Any social theory worthy of its ambition requires a space for enigmatic, chaotic, incoherent, and structurally contradictory attachments; it needs a way to assess the attachment needs that put people in relation without promising to deliver “a life” that feels cushioned. There is no cure for ambivalence. (Lauren Berlant, 2011, Cultural Anthropology; 26 (4) 30 April, 2015

11 Feminist psycho-social approaches Feminists Un/do the Masters ! 30 April, 2015

12 Feminism After Bourdieu  Feminist Bourdieusian approaches : Reay,(2005); Skeggs,(1997) – the concept of habitus enhanced by a recognition of how class/classification ‘feels’ and how gender works as affective processes. ‘the habitus - embodied habitus, internalised as second nature and so forgotten as history – is the active presence of the whole past of which it is the product.’ (Bourdieu, 1992:56). 30 April, 2015

13 Class Interests & Motivated unconsciousness  ‘The affective entailed in “interest” in collective/group constructions of boundaries and affinities based on the logic of interested calculation which works at the level of the unconscious……how both affect is used and produced by institutions and how it simmers in every evaluation that is made of people’ (Skeggs, 2002). 30 April, 2015

14 Emotion as a way of apprehending the world’ (Ahmed, 2004) ‘Emotions do things, and they align individuals with communities or bodily space with social space through the very intensity of their attachments. Rather than seeing emotions as psychological dispositions, we need to consider how they work, in concrete and particular ways, to mediate the relationship between the psychic and the social, and between the individual and the collective. (Ahmed 2004a, 119) emphasis added 30 April, 2015

15 Feminism After Freud  Walkerdine, Lucey & Melody’s (2001) take on class desires and investments – messy subjectivity not heroic but all too human ‘[part of] the development of a form of theory of the subject which did not accept the notion of ‘false consciousness’ but recognised, a desiring consciousness expressing the lures and contradictions of the social, since ‘everything is social’ (Hey, 2011) 30 April, 2015

16 Butler In/Against Freud Butler’s deconstructive epistemology – ‘troubling gender’ via the vocabulary of subjectification, performativity, intelligibility – re/citation yet humanist thread in her ontology of the subject: ‘Moreover this situation of primary dependency conditions the political formation and regulation of subjects...The one who holds out the promise of continued existence plays to the desire to survive.’ (Butler, 1997,7 cited in Hey & Leathwood, 2009) 30 April, 2015

17 Construing a ‘psychosocial logic of enquiry’ A post-structural study exploring how unremarkable difference is made to matter in the emotion-laden practices and processes of friendship – thus the structural power of class, race, gender & heterosexuality takes cultural force and form. (Hey, 1997) The Company She Keeps: an ethnography of girls’ friendship. Turning the gaze back on the maker of knowledge –to ask who is the ‘ I’ we bring into being when we represent ‘the Other’ ? (Hey, 2009) The Girl in the Mirror; the Psychic Economy of Class in Girlhood Studies : an Interdisciplinary Journal (2009). 30 April, 2015

18 Difficult and Dissident Theory ‘ I want to suggest that it is possible to read ‘difficulty’ as an important ethical component of the radical democratic project within which Butler continues to situate her work … Butler is well aware that her texts are labour intensive, but I hope it will become clear that this labour potentially effects the making of politically dissident readers […] who are prompted to question the limitations of their ‘linguistic horizons’ along with the exclusionary schemes of intelligibility which currently pass for the ontological norm. (Salih, 2003, p. 43; emphasis added cited in Hey, 2006, p443) 30 April, 2015

19 The Affective Economy of the Academy  The calculus of rational actor theory  The dominance given to naïve realist views aligned with neo- liberal realism (Wendy Brown)  The toxic politics of narcissistic individualism Yet :  The truth of human and system vulnerability & interdependency  Not entirely captured by the system  Bodily rebellions ?  Mental qualms – the certainty of uncertainty 30 April, 2015

20 Feminist Critique is Captured? Feminists Are Undone by the Masters ! 30 April, 2015

21 Feminism, Fashion and Difference Some questions:  Has feminist theory moved from the realm of the necessity of resistance into reproduction?  Are there any political consequences for feminism of material generational differences among ‘vintage’ feminists and younger feminists?  What new imaginaries can assist us in thinking outside the ‘master’ discourses and the ‘discourse of the master’? 30 April, 2015

22 Resources for further reading Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–7486–1847–3, £16.99 Lauren Berlant, The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–8223–1924–1, £17.50 Lauren Berlant, ed., Intimacy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–226–38443–8, £16.00 Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca, NY: University of Cornell Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–8014–8862–1, £12.95 Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–8223–3088–1, £18.50 Sianne Ngai, Ugly Feelings. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–674–01536–3, £19.95; paperback edition, 2007, ISBN 0–674–02409–5, £ April, 2015

23 Resources for further reading Elspeth Probyn, Blush: Faces of Shame. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–8166–2721–5, £14.00 Denise Riley, Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. ISBN 0–8223–3512–3, £12.95 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–8223–3015, £15.50 Elspeth Probyn, Blush: Faces of Shame. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–8166–2721–5, £14.00 Denise Riley, Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. ISBN 0–8223–3512–3, £12.95 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. (incl. index). ISBN 0–8223–3015, £15.50 Margaret Wetherell (2012) Affect and Emotion : A New Social Science Understanding, London, Sage 30 April, 2015


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