Affect in Sociality in Contemporary Southeast Asia


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 2
Wed 14:00-15:30 Room 3.02

Part 2

Session 3
Wed 16:00-17:30 Room 3.02


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This panel explores the role of affect in sociality in Southeast Asia: its forms and modes of expression in social contexts, its role in shaping the tenor and direction of interaction, and its impact on relations with the political and natural environment.

The affective turn has usefully highlighted the importance of prediscursive bodily experiences and intersubjective experiential states in social life, and in Kathleen Stewart’s (2017: 194) terms, “helped return anthropology to sense and sensation, materialities, and viscera.” Denoting, in a Deleuzian-Massumian framework, intensities or potentialities that impel people to action, affect offers a means to explore how social life is shaped by the elusive forces that operate in shared emotional landscapes beneath the level of cultural representations.

Affect is adopted to open new perspectives on social life in Southeast Asia, with particular attention to contexts of contemporary change, including environmental transformation, cultural reorientation, political integration or marginalization, and ensuing existential uncertainties. We are interested in the “affective resonances” of these and like conditions which often loom large in the present lives of Southeast Asians. Affect is envisioned as a means for attending to the political through something that feels “really real”, which exists in material reality and has acute contemporary significance (Rutherford 2016: 292). Besides its resonating qualities, panellists may address affect’s potentiating and potentially debilitating qualities: how it encourages or inhibits agency, enchants or disenchants, unites or divides. Contributions may explore any of the ways sociality is shaped by affect, understood broadly to include sensuous and tactile experiences, moods and ambiences, along with emotions, as the subjective and cultural extensions of affect. They may favorably consider “affective encounters” – between local actors, or between locals and migrants, corporations, government agencies, or nonhuman entities. The focus can be on any context (ritual, political or everyday) and quality (effervescent, tranquil, or transgressive) of expression of affect.