The Cultural Politics of Emotions
Book: The Cultural Politics of Emotions
Written by: Sara Ahmed
Published by: Edinburgh University Press, 2004
In this book, Sara Ahmed puts forward a formulation of reading the material textuality of emotions across bodies. Drawing on feminist, queer and Marxist theories, as well as cultural studies and poststructuralism, ‘The Cultural Politics of Emotions’ investigates how emotions are crucial in the building of a nation-state. The politics of the emotions align an individual within or outside a community and therefore, endows a certain value to the body in the process. Through chapters on ‘Pain’, ‘Hate’, ‘Fear’, ‘Disgust’, ‘Shame’, ‘Love’, and ‘Queer Love’, the author explores the circulation of emotions among communities — ‘examining how they stick as well as move’ — thereby exploring the structures of emotions beyond the singular conception of cause and effect. The author is interested in deconstructing how emotions become the site for cultural and social power struggles, thus allowing us to approach emotions as a political activity and not simply an excess or an inconvenient distraction.
“Emotions show us how histories stay alive, even when they are not consciously remembered; how histories of colonialism, slavery, and violence shape lives and worlds in the present. The time of emotion is not always about the past, and how it sticks. Emotions also open up futures, in the ways they involve different orientations to others. It takes time to know what we can do with emotion. Of course, we are not just talking about emotions when we talk about emotions. The objects of emotions slide and stick and they join the intimate histories of bodies, with the public domain of justice and injustice.” (p. 202)The Cultural Politics of Emotion