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The Weight of History: From Heidegger to Afro-Pessimism

Jan Slaby – 2019

How does affect relate to time? This chapter offers a phenomenological perspective on the temporal character of affectivity. It argues that the past predominates, and that a concrete, ongoing history prevails within the embodied and embedded unfolding of affect. While affect happens in the present and instigates, pre-figures and transitions to the future, it is decisively anchored in what has been: in a materially sedimented past which continues to weigh on all conceivable ways of being. With reference to Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Fanon and contemporary feminist and anti-racist phenomenologists, I outline the contours of a temporal account of affectivity that foregrounds the past. Subsequently, I relate this outlook to Christina Sharpe's powerful conceptual metaphor "the Wake", suggesting that it is not historicity as such but a particular ongoing history of violent appropriation, oppression and displacement that keeps setting the tone for affective being-in-the-world in this day and age. Thereby, the present account makes tentative contact with a strand of work in black studies that is sometimes called "Afro-Pessimism".

Title
The Weight of History: From Heidegger to Afro-Pessimism
Author
Publisher
Brill
Location
New York & Leiden
Date
2019
Appeared in
Guidi, L. & Rentsch, T. (Ed.). Phenomenology as Performative Exercise. New York & Leiden: Brill (Studies in Contemporary Phenomenology)
Language
eng
Type
Text