The first day of the Emotional Geographies Conference in Groningen was a long but excellent one! The opening plenary presentation by Rosi Braidotti gave a very clear and interesting overview of Spinozist approaches to studying affect, and an affirmative ethics as a way out of dualist logics. A power cut early in it had me thinking about the affectivity of light and dark – in particular how the levels of engagement with the presentation seemed to rise in the darkness.
Liz Bondi spoke in the next session I attended. She talked about the highs and lows of writing using a psychoanalytic approach towards understanding how we split our successful and incompetent writing selves. In doing so we over estimate our successes but under estimate our failures. This was an interesting intervention which unpacked the inherent flux of the writing process.
During rest of the day I attended the sessions on emotional governance. This contained some interesting debates, particularly concerning how to account for intensive affective experience in the context of neoliberal policy arenas. Highlights included Mark Griffith’s thought provoking presentation on his research with international NGO volunteers, Stuart Muirhead’s work with environmental volunteers in Scotland, Rachel Dobson’s unpacking of ‘practice’ in the world of policy practitioners and Rosie Anderson’s discussion of the emotional labour of civil servants who are forced into expressing no emotions. I might have liked a few of the other presentations to do more work exploring how their empirical cases contributed to wider debates, but the overall sessions explored a consistent theme of the emergence of affect within policy and governance spaces.
Right, off for day two – very excited to hear Anne Marie Mol speak!