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Network Affect and Colonialism


Jonas Bens, Social and Cultural Anthropology
Rosa Cordillera A. Castillo, Social and Cultural Anthropology
Fabian Bernhardt, Philosophy
Débora Medeiros, Media and Communication Studies 
Verena Straub, Art history/ Visual studies 

Contact: contact-affect-and-colonialism@lists.fu-berlin.de

Colonialism is not only a thing of the past, but also the present. Colonialism’s legacies, as well as its enduring manifestations, continue to shape social and cultural realities both for the colonized and the colonizers: in social institutions and spaces, images and concepts, patterns of perception and feeling, economic inequalities, political power relations, forms of subjectivation, emotional repertoires, and affective arrangements of different kinds and scales. In this international network, we aim at investigating the affective dynamics connected to colonialism and its neo- and postcolonial (re-)instantiations. We draw on scholarship about colonialism, incorporating decolonial approaches, postcolonial theory, and settler colonial studies into our toolkit, as well as engaging humanities and social science, approaches to affect and emotion. We want to better understand the ways colonialism has been and continues to be shaped by the creation, maintenance, modulation, transformation, and rejection of specific affects and emotions.

Our members explore this field of affect and colonialism from different angles: (1) the technologies of affective colonial governance, including the curation of specific colonial sensibilities and sentiments; (2) emotions of colonial domination and colonizer-colonized relations; (3) how processes of colonial racialization in neo/post/colonial societies (including phenomena such as blackness, indigeneity, mestizaje, white supremacy, nativism, etc.) are inscribed in the affective lives of people; (4) the role of affect and emotion in producing belonging and (national) identity both in the Global North and the Global South; (5) the affective workings of colonial ruinations, archives, and museums, and the politics of history, remembering and nostalgia in which they are embedded; (6) how the inequalities of global capitalism and its ongoing colonial dynamics permeate people’s everyday lives and feeling and are reproduced by a politics of sentiment.

First and foremost, our network aims at facilitating academic exchange among scholars. Based at Freie Universität Berlin and funded by the Collaborative Research Center “Affective Societies”, we aspire to develop long-term cooperation between scholars from the Global North and the Global South. The network “Affect and Colonialism” connects people from different contexts, provokes fresh conversations, and brings about a cooperative scholarship that is more than the sum of its parts.