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But it did not mean one thing, so it was broad enough and ambiguous enough to soak up lots of different meanings that allow lots of different kinds of people to identify with it and be affected by it. In itself it means almost nothing, it is very vague, but there is just enough of a narrative there for you to put into it what you will and that is, in my view, how many people get emotionally tied into the narrative.

Jakub Eberle: This paints a somewhat pessimistic picture of politics as an enterprise in which communities and identities are constructed through arousal and circulations of affects around particular signifiers, slogans, and even chants. If it is so, how do we resist such populist appeals, e.

Ty Solomon: First of all, I think there is always room for resistance. Those people might be prominent in the society; however, more often they at the margin of what seems to be the main public discourse. There are always going to be people contesting it. The fact that language is never fixed and no discourse can ever exhaust all possible meanings means that there is room for struggle over the meaning of our master signifiers.

Jakub Eberle: This brings us to your main interest, which is, broadly speaking, about the issues of affect and emotions in international politics. How do you see this current gap in the IR literature that you are speaking to? What approaches do you build upon? Ty Solomon: I wrote my PhD dissertation on trying to develop a new form of doing discourse analysis in International Relations.

I tried to bring in what still is a new interest, namely the problems of emotions and affect.

Politics and the Emotions : The Affective Turn in Contemporary Political Studies - potyducono.ga

This is highly problematic if, as a number of scholars have come to argue , social relations today are increasingly organised upon and mediated by the capitalist organisation of digital and other media. Finally, affect theorists have to my knowledge not substantively attended to the ways in which mental and material labor or body and mind have continued to be strictly alienated along Cartesian lines through 21st century capitalist processes of accumulation. In short, while I think that affect theory has challenged some of the narrower conceptions of a disembodied reason that dominate some regions of the academy, I see substantial pitfalls and limitations in taking it as an emancipatory ontological commitment.

First, a series of recent and forthcoming publications focus upon the implications of recent developments in International Political Economy. Second, he is currently completing a book-length study of the ideology of childhood in popular culture. This reflects a broader interest in the intersections of politics and popular culture.

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Politics, emotion and identity performance. Still, more systematic research is needed to understand the processes and conditions that lead to affective relations between people and forests. Understanding the conditions that lead to these affective relations and foster environmental subjectivities is of central importance for fostering care of the commons.


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In the following sections, I elaborate the conceptual ideas about affect and affective relationality followed by a discussion about subjectivity and discuss how attention on affects and subjectivity helps think about fostering the subjectivity of being a commoner. In recent years, the social sciences and humanities have seen an explosion of interest in the ideas of affect and emotions.

Affect in this formulation is seen as the power to affect and be affected, and the relationship between these two powers Hardt, Affect is different from emotions as conventionally understood and denotes a relational force that flows between bodies and which enhances or diminishes their power of acting Deleuze and Guattari, To affect and be affected is to be open to the world and to the possibility of being transformed through this engagement with the material world. Affect is a pre-cognitive and transpersonal intensity that flows through and defines bodies — where bodies are not limited to human bodies.

To fully capture the entirety of human experience, it is important to focus on the interrelated domains of feelings, emotions, and affects, and to recognize that they are a necessary accompaniment of cognition and rationality instead of an impediment to it. Rather, it compels appreciation that thinking and feeling are inseparable. Instead of the striving for utility maximization that dominates economic imagination, Spinoza offers conatus, that is, a striving for associations that enhance our capacity to act and give us joy Read, Spinozian theories about affect and conatus support a relational ontological perspective that shifts attention from essences or totalities to relations, emergence, and co-becomings.

Challenging the conception of humans as homo economicus, a Spinozian perspective suggests that we are not only hardwired to maximize utility but are also driven by the desire to care, give, and be valued as givers. Questioning the homo economicus model of humans is, of course, not new. In the field of behavioral economics, a large body of literature establishes that emotions and the subconscious realm play an important role in human decision-making Norton et al. Furthermore, thinking and feeling happens not only in our brains but is also connected to embodied ways of being and negotiating our way through the environment.

Neuroscience is thus confirming what Spinoza intuited more than three centuries ago and expressed in the form of his theory of mind and body parallelism. Moreover, the shepherd is not a stand-alone actor but a relational being entangled in a complex set of relations with other human and nonhuman actors. The self that emerges through these affective socio-natural interactions differs from the atomized individual subject of Western thought.

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This self includes a sensibility and concern for the well-being of others with whom it is relationally entangled, a point that I elaborate in greater detail in the following section on subjectivities. Philosophers and activists alike have highlighted that the current ecological crisis demands us to rethink our modes of being human Plumwood, ; Klein, As feminist eco-philosopher Val Plumwood 1, cited in Roelvink, puts it:. If our species does not survive the ecological crisis, it will probably be due to our failure…to work out new ways to live with the earth, to rework ourselves…We will go onwards in a different mode of humanity, or not at all.

Reinventing a different mode of being human is thus one of the most critical challenges of our time, which compels attention to the conditions of subjectivity formation. But in nature-society studies, the issue of subjectivities has been relatively neglected Morales and Harris, This is changing, however, with an increasing realization that the crisis of the environment is connected fundamentally to human ways of being and relating to the world.

Here, I deepen this analysis by arguing that we need to analyze how collective subjectivities emerge from the entangled affective ecologies of nature, society, and the self. Affect theory presents analytical tools for such transversal thinking that unravels the conditions for our subjectification.

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The commons, as autonomous Marxist Antonio Negri tells us, are not just resources for supporting material existence but are sources for nurturance of our subjectivity. It denotes a loss of control over the conditions for the production of subjectivity. Freeing up the conatus, or human striving, from the narrowly defined striving of utility maximization, and allowing alternate ways of being and subjectivities outside of the dominant market logic to emerge, is fundamental to the process of revival of the commons.

Revival of the commons, then, becomes critical not simply from the perspective of restoration of access and control over physical resources, but from the perspective of countering this alienation and finding a way to produce alternate subjectivities and alternate worlds.

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The affective turn in contemporary political studies

From this perspective, we need to reclaim the commons as material resources not only for subsistence and livelihood but also as the grounds for the production of subjectivity. As Read emphasizes, the struggle over the commons, including the knowledge commons and the digital commons, is as much a struggle over the forces and relations that produce subjectivity as it is a struggle over wealth and value Read, In view of this, commons scholars need to pay attention to the conditions of subjectivity production in addition to institutions, discourses, and power relations that shape the production or disappearance of the commons.

Expanding subjectivities beyond the realm of the psyche, we need to theorize and analyze them as collectively experienced and not only a means of understanding and making sense of the world, but also as a major force shaping the world that we live in. Simondon is one of the most inventive thinkers of twentieth-century philosophy whose work has been somewhat neglected within the English-speaking audience.

Through his theory of transindividuality, Simondon questions the centrality of the individual and the principle of individuation within Western philosophy Read, ; Combes, The first thesis states that individuation is never concluded , which suggests that the pre-individual is never fully translated into singularity, rather the subject is the interweaving of pre-individual elements and individuated characteristics ibid.

The day-to-day embodied practices in the forest, through which one sees the mahua flowers spread on the forest floor, smells its intoxicating scent, and feels the shade of the tree in the smoldering heat as one gathers and touches the flower are all affects that depend on senses that are part of a generic biological endowment Singh, In doing so, he calls for a radical understanding of the process wherein a principle is not only put to work but is also constituted through the process.

Such a processual understanding of subjectivity has important implications for rethinking the notion of the subject in political thought and practice. These ways of conceptualizing the self and subjectivity resonate strongly with indigenous views of thinking about the self as entangled with the rest of the world de Castro, ; Kohn, ; Ingold, ; Suchet-Pearson et al. Indigenous cultures around the world give primacy to relations and relational existence that emerge from their stance of connectedness, gratitude, and solidarity with the rest of the world.

In this view, the self is not seen as an autonomous subject acting on the world, but as a relational emergence responding to the world. Commons scholars and activists are well-positioned to contribute to the cross-fertilization of these ideas and to explore empirically and theoretically how different ways of being in the world are conditioned by ways of relating to the commons.

e-book Politics and the Emotions: The Affective Turn in Contemporary Political Studies

A critical opening to explore is how different understandings of the self and relational ethics emerge from certain ways of being with the world and how Indigenous perspectives about the commons can offer ways of nurturing a stance of interdependence and care for the more-than-human world.

The subjectivity of being forest caregivers emerges from their everyday actions of caring for the forest. Affects play an important role in the process and are the medium by which intersubjective relations with their social and natural environment are strengthened, as a growing body of literature is now beginning to appreciate Anderson, ; Sultana, ; Nightingale, ; Milton, ; Dallman et al. In this case, affective relations with forests are also shaped by the materiality of the forest and local subsistence dependence on it.

These affective relations are further strengthened through conservation care practices and play an important role in strengthening subjectivities of being a commoner in active relationship with the forest and with other villagers who share these landscapes. Although he was referring to social relations and relations of accountability within a social setting, he could have been espousing relational ontology and echoing a Spinozan conception of collective bodies.

These new subjectivities of forest conservationists include a sense of being part of a community of forest caregivers and of having affective relations with the forests that they have cared for. By creating conditions for such emergences, these kinds of subjectivities can be fostered. Understanding the conditions that enable such emergences, then, becomes critical from the perspective of nurturing alternate subjectivities and post-capitalist futures.

The multitudes of examples of collective action for reclaiming or creating new commons are appropriate sites to explore processes contributing to the production of subjectivity.


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In recent years, the concept of the commons has become central to anti-capitalist struggles. Diverse projects for commoning that include community gardens, local currencies, community supported agriculture, bio-cultural restoration efforts, peer-to-peer production initiatives, and so on see Bollier and Heinrich, , for several dozen examples.

A wide range of activists and practitioners are invoking the vocabulary of the commons to defend the disappearing material commons as well as to expand non-material commons as practices for building communities, solidarity, and alternate subjectivities De Peuter and Dyer-Witheford, , De Angelis, Commoning is seen as a way to reclaim control over our lives and over the conditions of our reproduction ibid.