Black Affect and Minor Feelings DEADLINE MAY 18

full name / name of organization: 
Affect Theory Conference - Worldings, Tensions, Futures (Lancaster, PA)

Stream #2 – Black Affect and Minor Feelings, OCTOBER 14-17

"…we know for certain that the solution to the Black Man's problems will come only through Black National Consciousness. We also know that the focus of change will be racial. (If we feel differently, we have different ideas. Race is feeling…Art is one method of expressing these feelings and identifying the form as an emotional phenomenon."

– Amiri Baraka, "The Legacy of Malcolm X, and the Coming of the Black Nation"

"The society in which I'm living is totally fucked-up. I don't know what to do. I'm just one person and I'm not very good at anything. I don't want to live in hell my whole life. If I knew how this society got so fucked-up, if we all knew, maybe we'd have a way of destroying hell."

– Kathy Acker, Blood and Guts in High School

What kinds of affects do revolutionary thought and action, performance and artistic improvisation compel and demand? This stream will engage in a study and exploration of minor and minoritarian affects, feelings and emotions. How can we keep the event of affect open to global expressions of political resistance and their alternative histories? How can we theorize affectively about the collective feelings that propel contemporary social movements, and think about artistic practices that model affect as a non or asubjective category? How might blackness as a minoritarian category of experience arrange and affectively resignify affective discourse, as well as discourses of race and racialized experience? Is it possible to conceive of what Sianne Ngai calls "ugly" or "minor feelings" as black affects? Can the recent turns to black ontologies help us answer this, and elaborate an affective theory of politics that does not depend on the older notion of a subject-position? Consulting theorists like Fred Moten, Frank Wilderson, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Jose Munoz, Lauren Berlant and many others, this stream welcomes several other scholarly trajectories that do not necessarily address blackness or Black Studies per se, but that are invested in thinking about inhabiting the world differently, the temporality of that inhabitation, and about how the pressures of living in what Berlant terms the "negating present" affectively attend our shared feelings of inhabiting an anti-black world. This stream will construct a genealogy of affect and emotion that will attempt to bridge these different inquiries into collective feeling.

1) Beginning with Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's notion of becoming minor, we will think firstly about the global emergence of the minority as central to the making of minoritarian life worlds and their affective scenes of belonging, desire, resistance and agency. The work of theorists invested in the wider implications of Deleuze and Guattari's thought for affective inquiry, (William Connolly, Brian Massumi, Claire Colebrook and others), will be important as we consider global political practices of becoming minor that open up affective life worlds in which struggle and theory mutually inform one another.

2) We will consider the role that the collective production of minoritarian affects has played in the development and disruption of discourses about race and racial formation. Many prominent humanities scholars (Sianne Ngai, Anne Cheng) have theorized affect with respect to the complex processes of racialization that attend individualized experiences of racial subjectivity. But what would it mean to explore the theoretical uses of affect beyond discourses of racial recognition and misrecognition? What are the diasporic preconditions for the current globalizing shifts in the imagination of race and racialized feeling? Lastly, we will consider the production of black affect as crucial to an ethic of becoming minor. Might a more capacious understanding of blackness as racialized feeling be wielded in order to attend to the complexities of minoritarian affective experience?

Potential topics/possible intersections including but not limited to:

Minoritarian Affect in Queer, Black, Latin American, Asian American, Indigenous, Trans, Feminist and Disability Studies

Black Aesthetics

Performance Studies

Contemporary Art and Visual Culture

Feminist Theory and Gender Studies

Queer Theory

Sound Studies

Dance Studies

Food Studies

Theories of Embodiment

Non-Cognitive Modes of Expression

New Materialisms and Object-Oriented Ontology

Post-Identity Subjectivity

Marxism and Theories of Labor

For Instructions Visit
Email Submissions to:
Email Inquiries to: Rizvana Bradley –
Assistant Professor, WGSS, Emory University

250-word PAPER ABSTRACTS – oriented to the accepted stream proposals –can now be submitted. ALL PAPERS MUST BE SUBMITTED THROUGH THE CONFERENCE WEBSITE at The final deadline for submissions is MONDAY, MAY 18. The conference website will keep a master file of all submissions to the various accepted streams.