Ruminations on affect, the passions, and emotion have intrigued students of the human experience for centuries. As early as Durkheim's descriptions of collective effervescence, anthropologists have also been involved in these debates. Following Deleuze’s distillation of the contributions of Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Nietzsche, and others, scholars across the humanities and social sciences have returned to these discussions with renewed energy. Inspired by the [email protected] panel and discussions of how to research affect ethnographically at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, we asked four anthropologists to explore the ways understandings of affect inform their work.
Speaking at the annual meeting, Andrea Muehlebach noted (in response to Lauren Berlant’s theorizing of the affective atmospheres of our current historical moment) that Berlant seemed not to be writing toward an analysis of late liberalism but toward a sociality that is “pre-something.” What is that something? How do affective passions become effective? How do readings of affect open up understandings of race, gender, and class? How does drawing attention to affect inform our ethics and politics?
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