As a Matter of Affect: Making Sense of Planetarity
Call for Papers
Young Researchers’ Conference
As a Matter of Affect: Making Sense of Planetarity
2-3 December 2021
Department of English
Jamia Millia Islamia
The affective turn in humanities and social sciences became noticeable in the mid-1990s. On the one hand, this body-oriented approach sought to centre the non-signifying, nonrepresentational and unmediated character of aesthetic and cultural transactions; on the other, affectivity was rendered qualitative and its subjective and semiotic content made available for study under the rubric of cultural politics of emotions. The displacement of cognition as an all-encompassing register of meaning making practices was common to these two routes that affect studies broadly charted. With its foundation in disciplines such as psychoanalysis, feminist studies, queer theory, neurosciences, philosophy, this interdisciplinary framework brought about a break from existing paradigms such as poststructuralism etc. Furthermore, it led to the formation of a fresh and original nomenclature; a taxonomy comprising of attachments, attunements, visceral forces, intuitions, orientations, atmosphere, moods, structure-of-feelings, intensities, resonances, stickiness, capaciousness and so on and so forth, which promised to better understand emerging fields of relationalities as also reframe pre-existing ones.
A theoretical configuration such as this can prove instrumental in cohering the evolving scene of ethico-relationality, notably termed planetarity by Gayatri Spivak, in her seminal work The Death of a Discipline. Here, Spivak makes a case for “planet-thought”. While conceding that one “cannot offer a formulaic access to planetarity” she deliberates on how the concept of the globe is radically different from that of the planet and situates the latter “in the species of alterity”. That is to say, where the totalizing impulse of globalization subjects all relations to the principle of profit maximization and a concomitant extension of self, a cultural homogenisation facilitated by the unprecedented acceleration of the transnational flow of labour, media, trade, trends, finance, spectacles etc; planetary imagination endeavours to foreground a world which, as Jean-Luc Nancy puts it, is a “resonance without reason”, a world which “relates to itself without referring to any given principle”. As opposed to the impoverishing tendencies of globalized modernity which furthers an “unworlding” wherein experiences of risk and deterritorialization feel ordinary and every day, a planetary vision focuses on the creation of a re-constellation of the dimensions of modernity.
At the heart of planetary relationality thus is a necessary displacement of the utilitarian model of ‘looking at’, and instead an insistence on ‘looking after’, an articulation of what Pheng Cheah terms “non thematic relations of care”. To say that the task of care is always intimate brings us closer to a world-making based on kinship and a simultaneous revision, perhaps an overhauling, of the meaning and place of humans, humanity and humanities, precipitated by a critical juncture in planetary history variously labelled as Anthropocene, Chthulucene, Capitalocene etc. At stake here is the development of “sensitivity”, since Earth or like Bruno Latour writes Gaia, has become sensitive, “reacting rapidly to small changes” in the planet’s ecology. Considering that “to be affected” is a key phrase used to underscore the potentiality of all bodies, (human or non-human, organic or in-organic, material or machinic) to move and be moved, the impersonal nature of affect leads one to a broader context of possibility hinged on experiencing the forces of encounter.
There is a need to shift one’s focus from the notion of totality that is accorded to the concept of a globalized world and instead look at the world which is still forming; one which would also be cognizant of its capacity to be limitless. Jean Luc-Nancy discusses ‘being in the world’ in terms of “sharing a part of its inner resonances,” and as a space of “presences and dispositions for possible events.” Being a subject in this world would then require one to move away from notions of individuation and singularity accorded to it. Thus, one would also be moving from a “building perspective” towards a “dwelling perspective”, as Tim Ingold would suggest, where there is an attempt to bridge the imagined gap between the “perceiver and the world” and at the same time validate the labour of non-human actors while creating such a world.
Through this Call For Papers, we invite researchers and scholars to think about how this ethico-onto-epistemological category of affect, that takes into account the register of motions and emotions, cultivates “response-ability”. As Lauren Berlant would say, we want to look at the world which is “at once, intensely present and enigmatic such that the activity of the living demands both a wandering absorptive awareness and a hypervigilance” with which one can make sense of their orientations. The question would then arise how does one move from being a global agent to a planetary subject? How do affective investments orient us towards objects and other participants in the world? How does one analyse such emotional intrusions? Do affective circulations then aid in the creation of an “intimate public” and how do we imagine its human and post-human potential? Taking a cue from Donna Haraway, who writes that, “It matters what matters we use to think other matters with”, this conference seeks to initiate a discussion on the urgent matter of planetary relationality vis-a-vis the matter, material and methodology of affect studies.
Topics could include but may not be limited to:
• Planetary Affect and the Anthropocene: Ecology, Environment and Climate Change
• Skin of our Machines: Emotive Understandings of Posthumanism
• Planetary Urbanization: Thinking with the Intersection of Caste, Class, Gender,
Sexuality and Race
• Memory, Post-memory and Affect: Personal and Collective Narratives of the Past
• Planetary Commons or Global Commons: Personal, Communal and Legislated
• The Visual, the Aural, and the Sonic: Social Aesthetics and Affect
• Digitizing the Planetary: Video Games, Television, Streaming and Podcasting
• Pathologization of Affect: Emotive Responses of Minority Communities
• Planetary Geocultures: Costume, the Corporeal Experience, Food, Music, Internet,
Architecture and Affect
• A Feel for the Text: Popular Fiction, Genre fiction and Affect
• Planetary Health and the Pandemic: Mobilising Affect in Public Sphere
• Digital Affect Cultures: Affective Economies and Intimate Publics
Submission of Abstracts: 10th October, 2021
Intimation of Accepted Abstracts: 15th October, 2021.
Submission of Full-Length Papers: 15th November, 2021.
Guidelines for Abstract and Paper Submission
We invite abstracts of about 300 words along with a short bio-note of 100 words to be sent via email to email@example.com on or before 10th October 2021. Full-length papers of accepted abstracts, of 4500-6000 words, in citation style MLA 8th Edition, should reach the same on or before 15th November, 2021. Kindly note the conference will be held online.
Selected papers will be published in a collection of conference proceedings with a leading international publisher. For further queries and submissions, kindly write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Najma Akhtar
Jamia Millia Islamia
Prof. Simi Malhotra, Head, Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (JMI)
Jubi C John, PhD Research Scholar, Department of English, JMI
Sakshi Dogra, PhD Research Scholar, Department of English, JMI