Withstanding the Weather: Black Feminism & Cultural Politics of Unfeeling

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Join us each month for lectures and events that ‘follow the affective turn’, as we hear from leading scholars working in and around the field of affect studies.


To view our lecture series line-up and information about our summer symposium, click here.

Lecture description

How might “I don’t care” operate as self-care and open up new forms of sociality precisely because of its antisociality? I propose “unfeeling” as the term towards a methodology that refuses the demand for the marginalized to prove their affective interiorities as evidence of their humanity. In my research I argue that racialized and queer unfeeling dissents from expectations of expressive and responsive affective labour according to sentimental biopolitics.

In doing so, I follow from queer of colour theorist Martin Manalansan IV’s figuration of disaffection in its causal, affective, and political senses. The negativity of “unfeeling” registers how minoritarian affects are occluded in the American culture of sentiment; instead, I take this demonization of affective tactics of survival and resistance as indicative of the insurgent potential of alternative structures of feeling.

The term ‘”unfeeling” intervenes in the inadequacies of affect theory to address race through the antisocial turn. I share how “unfeeling” brings together conversations about refusal and dissatisfaction with the universal human and belonging from Black, Asian American, and Indigenous studies informed by feminist and queer of color critique. “In order to withstand the weather, we had to become stone,” says Audre Lorde on the need for Black self-love. Taking Lorde’s stone with Christina Sharpe’s weather, as a non-Black woman of colour scholar I read Black women’s texts for how unfeeling defies stereotypes of affective excess and emotional labor bound to white feelings.

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