This blog is part of a broader project that aims both to better understand how emotions actively shape the contours of social and political life, and also to find ways of engaging at the edges of emotional boundaries. There is a federal election coming up in Canada, and this “national ritual” provides an exemplary event in which a number of issues are highlighted. For one, examining the election allows for observations about the ways that mainstream media whips up emotions around certain issues – this is impart the purpose of the blog. The occasion of the federal election is also an opportunity to explore how the emotional experiences of different groups of people are connected to their legal status as determined by Canadian state sovereignty. For instance, many indigenous people consider the colonial processes underlying the Canadian state to be illegal, the process of decolonization involves stoping ongoing colonial capitalism as a way toward self-determination. Also, as non-citizens, various classes of immigrant and temporary foreign workers in Canada hold precarious legal status and are unable even to take part in the ritual of voting. Finally, many settler Canadians (of which I am one) are seeking different relations to Canadian sovereignty which addresses it’s colonial genocide, exploitation of migrant labour, ongoing mass destruction of environment all of which are ongoing aspects which define Canada’s place within the contemporary neoliberal global economy.
Obviously there is a great deal of diversity within each of these groups, and the differences that exist don’t boil down simply to identity or class politics. In some cases people may share more social and political affinity with someone from another groups than they do with people who look like they do, or who have a similar income. How are these affective connections mediated within society, and what role do emotions play in coalescing and motivating groups of people to act publicly? If cities like Winnipeg are spatially divided by race and class, and these differences that are palpable and emotionally volatile, where are the edges of affect? how do they operate and how might they be altered?
I’m also using the idea of affective edges as a way to explore how private emotion is made public, and once public how these emotions influence the ways that people align themselves (or are aligned) with certain narratives, and what this means for social and political action. In one sense then, the project is about identifying some of the complex antagonisms that transect our communities, understanding the origin of these divisions and how they are perpetuated, and examining concrete ways in which the edge between affinity and aversion is constantly in play. In undertaking this project I do not wish to perpetuate problematic social categories and labels, rather I am examining categories only insofar as they have already being imposed upon and impact peoples lives. In developing this research, I have been guided by and am indebted to ongoing conversations with people from both Indigenous and Immigrant and Refugees communities in Winnipeg and elsewhere.
I grew up in eastern Ontario (Anishinaabeg territory) outside of Peterborough. I have been involved in community based organizing for many years, and have sought to incorporate this into my academic work. I did a PhD in the department of Cultural Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I currently hold a postdoctoral fellowship with The Affect Project at the University of Manitoba which is supporting this research (affectproject.ca).