By Carolyn Pedwell (auth.)
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Additional resources for Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy
62 Building on this important work, Affective Relations explores how attending to the neoliberal and neocolonial circuits through which emotion is invoked and materialised complicates liberal calls for empathy as a catalyst for transnational social justice. More specifically, I examine how, in the context of neoliberal governmentality, feminist and anti-racist understandings of empathy are susceptible to appropriation by market-oriented rhetorics that are arguably concerned with ‘empathy’, ‘care’, ‘equality’ and ‘social justice’ primarily to the extent that they can be incorporated within, or leveraged to advance, goals of transnational economic competitiveness.
Throughout the book, I explore how attending to the complex forms of temporal and spatial interconnectedness that characterise contemporary social life 36 Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy radically disrupts such accounts of empathetic politics, opening out to affective relations that exploit the transformative potential of transnationality’s multiple ‘spatiotemporal (dis)orders’ (Sassen, 2000: 221). In this vein, through its reading of A Small Place, Chapter 3 considers the role that alternative empathies can play in unpacking the ‘historicism’ linear understanding of time underscore, ‘an encrypting of the past from a singular, empathetic point of view: that of the victor’ (Benjamin cited in Eng and Kazanjian, 2003: 1).
In different ways then, both Puar and Clough call for a substantive move beyond ‘the subject’, and associated subjective and psychoanalytic frameworks, to analyse the nature of contemporary transnational politics. Similar in some respects to these theorists, I am interested in empathy as an affective relation that exceeds the boundaries of human subjects, as well as those of ‘community’ or ‘nation’. Understanding the ways in which emotion, feeling and affect are produced, circulate and translate transnationally requires an approach that moves beyond subjectto-subject relations, and thus away from any overly reductive ‘gridlock model’ which ‘demands the knowing, naming and thus stabilising of identity across time and space’ (Puar, 2008: 212).
Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy by Carolyn Pedwell (auth.)