Annotation: Ahmed - Emotion

Annotation: Sarah Ahmed: “Cultural Politics of Emotion: Introduction”

In “Introduction: Feel Your Way”, the opening to Sarah Ahmed’s book Cultural Politics of Emotion, Ahmed talks on the subject of emotions and how society has constructed a narrative surrounding how people experience emotions. Ahmed begins with saying that the “narrative works through othering” as it creates contrast between that which you are feeling and that which you are not feeling (page 1). Discussed in relation to the narrative surrounding illegal immigrants coming into Britain, Emotions are “associated with women, who are represented as ‘closer’ to nature, ruled by appetite, and less able to transcend the body through thought, will and judgment” (Page 3). In other words, to show emotion is to resemble the other woman, which is weaker than man. This idea helps to establish emotion as narrating a “sign of ‘our’ prehistory” (page 3). Under this construction, one is unable to see that emotion pre-exists the body that feels it as “the story of evolution is narrated not only as the story of triumph of reason, but of the ability to control emotions' ' (Page 3). Emotions not playing a role in influencing somebody has been associated with victory and success, and in this way, “emotions are not ‘in’ either the individual or the social, but produce the very surfaces and boundaries that allow the individual and the social to be delineated as if they are objects” (page 10). When we understand that emotions are “moving” and take a major role in rhetoric, we can understand that nations themselves play a role in hindering our emotions as we “align ourselves with the nation, and against those others who threaten to take the nation away” (page 11-12). When considering how a subject’s emotions are cyclical and dynamic and can pass on from one to another, are there ways in which this cycle breaks? For instance, do patriarchal values attempt to dismantle emotions that fly through society? Furthermore, if the narrative around emotions is that we feel based on others or that others make us feel, can we argue about what came first?