Analyzing Affective Societies. Methods and Methodologies
Kahl, Antje – 2019
In the aftermath of the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, a certain “WE” emerges within media coverage. This collective body appears to be constituted by emotions: Shocked by the violation of the central democratic right freedom of speech, mourning the victims of the terrorist attacks, and at the same time fearing potential further intrusions. In order to grasp this complex emotionality following the attack, the paper introduces a reading for affect drawing on affect theory as an analytical tool in discourse analysis. Contrary to the theoretical approaches that locate emotions within the interiority of individuals as private experiences, reading for affect analytically draws on how emotions work through constructing relationalities not only between human but also non-human bodies. It takes a specific approach to texts that foregrounds affective phenomena as a hermeneutic lens, focusing on affect and emotion as produced within discourse. Within this public discourse, the collective body comes into being mostly through shock, fear, and appreciation. It is particularly through its emotional attachments to freedom of speech that the “WE” creates itself as a trans-European hegemonic subjectivity, no longer rooted in nationalism, but in Western secularism.