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By Carolyn Pedwell (auth.)

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Additional resources for Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy

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44 As Dipesh Chakrabarty argues in his analysis of the ways in which Europe ‘has historically haunted debates on modernity in India’, for example, ‘This Europe was made in the image of a colonizing power’ and, as such, ‘the making of such a Europe was not an act of Europeans alone’ (2007: xiv). In this way, thinking through the affective aftermaths of empire and their transnational implications requires that we conceptualise ‘the past and the future in a non-totalizing manner’ and thus that we ‘learn to think the present – the “now” that we inhabit as we speak – as irreducibly not-one’ (2007: 249).

The way in which any particular ‘object impresses (upon) us’ depends on histories of encounter that have ‘already left their impressions’ (2004: 8). Thus feelings, Ahmed argues, ‘do not reside in subjects or objects, but are produced as effects of circulation’ (2004: 8). Drawing on Ahmed and other critical theorists, Liz Bondi, Joyce Davidson and Mick Smith argue for ‘an non-objectifying 16 Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy view of emotions as relational flows, fluxes and currents, in-between people and places rather than “things” or “objects” to be studied and measured’ (2007: 3).

That is, empathy is made to work in these arenas as an individual competency which, when cultivated appropriately, translates into collective competency to produce economic, cultural and political value. In order to work as a tool to accumulate this value, empathy must distinguish between subjects in terms of the value they hold within transnational networks governed by neoliberal market logics. In this way, the circulation of empathy constitutes subjects/bodies of greater and lesser value on the basis of the marketable skills and resources they are understood to possess.

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