Department of Philosophy and Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
The Politics of Attachment: Toward a Critical Theory of Affect
My dissertation project, provisionally entitled The Politics of Attachment: Toward a Critical Theory of Affect is an effort to think through the relationship between emotion, oppression, political agency, and social change. I am exploring how emotional dispositions can become “distorted” under conditions of capitalist, racist, sexist, and heterosexist oppression, but how these supposed affective “pathologies” might be understood as valuable to projects of resistance. I draw on prominent theorists in the Frankfurt School tradition of Critical Theory (Adorno, Marcuse, and Honneth), as well as in critical race theory (Fanon, hooks, B. Cooper) and contemporary queer and affect theory (Edelman, Ahmed, Berlant and Ruti). My main innovation is to take attachment theory as supplying a useful lens through which to interpret different modes of relating to the socio-political order. More specifically, I work to reclaim “insecure” attachment as an appropriate, ethical, and even politically productive response to an oppressive social-political order.