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Living a Feminist Life

Written by Sara Ahmed

In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Building on legacies of feminist of color scholarship in particular, Ahmed offers a poetic and personal meditation on how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique—often by naming and calling attention to problems—and how feminists learn about worlds from their efforts to transform them. Ahmed also provides her most sustained commentary on the figure of the feminist killjoy introduced in her earlier work while showing how feminists create inventive solutions—such as forming support systems—to survive the shattering experiences of facing the walls of racism and sexism. The killjoy survival kit and killjoy manifesto, with which the book concludes, supply practical tools for how to live a feminist life, thereby strengthening the ties between the inventive creation of feminist theory and living a life that sustains it.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. Bringing Feminist Theory Home
  • Part I. Becoming Feminist
  • 1. Feminism Is Sensational
  • 2. On Being Directed
  • 3. Willfulness and Feminist Subjectivity
  • Part II. Diversity
  • 4. Trying to Transform
  • 5. Being in Question
  • 6. Brick Walls
  • Part III. Living the Consequences
  • 7. Fragile Connections
  • 8. Feminist Snap
  • 9. Lesbian Feminism
  • Conclusion 1. A Killjoy Survival Kit
  • Conclusion 2. A Killjoy Manifesto
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

ISBN: 9780822363194 [More]
Duke University Press | Paperback | 312pp | Now Available!

On Being Included : Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life

Written by Sara Ahmed

What does diversity do? What are we doing when we use the language of diversity? Sara Ahmed offers an account of the diversity world based on interviews with diversity practitioners in higher education, as well as her own experience of doing diversity work. Diversity is an ordinary, even unremarkable, feature of institutional life. Yet diversity practitioners often experience institutions as resistant to their work, as captured through their use of the metaphor of the "brick wall." On Being Included offers an explanation of this apparent paradox. It explores the gap between symbolic commitments to diversity and the experience of those who embody diversity. Commitments to diversity are understood as "non-performatives" that do not bring about what they name. The book provides an account of institutional whiteness and shows how racism can be obscured by the institutionalization of diversity. Diversity is used as evidence that institutions do not have a problem with racism. On Being Included offers a critique of what happens when diversity is offered as a solution. It also shows how diversity workers generate knowledge of institutions in attempting to transform them.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. On Arrival
  • 1. Institutional Life
  • 2. The Language of Diversity
  • 3. Equality and Performance Culture
  • 4. Commitment as a Non-performative
  • 5. Speaking about Racism
  • Conclusion. A Phenomenological Practice
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

ISBN: 9780822352365 [More]
Duke University Press | Paperbback | 256pp | Now Available!

Queer Phenomenology : Orientations, Objects, Others

Written by Sara Ahmed

In this groundbreaking work, Sara Ahmed demonstrates how queer studies can put phenomenology to productive use. Focusing on the “orientation” aspect of “sexual orientation” and the “orient” in “orientalism,” Ahmed examines what it means for bodies to be situated in space and time. Bodies take shape as they move through the world directing themselves toward or away from objects and others. Being “orientated” means feeling at home, knowing where one stands, or having certain objects within reach. Orientations affect what is proximate to the body or what can be reached. A queer phenomenology, Ahmed contends, reveals how social relations are arranged spatially, how queerness disrupts and reorders these relations by not following the accepted paths, and how a politics of disorientation puts other objects within reach, those that might, at first glance, seem awry.

Ahmed proposes that a queer phenomenology might investigate not only how the concept of orientation is informed by phenomenology but also the orientation of phenomenology itself. Thus she reflects on the significance of the objects that appear—and those that do not—as signs of orientation in classic phenomenological texts such as Husserl’s Ideas. In developing a queer model of orientations, she combines readings of phenomenological texts—by Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Fanon—with insights drawn from queer studies, feminist theory, critical race theory, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Queer Phenomenology points queer theory in bold new directions.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowlegments
  • Introduction: Find Your Way
  • 1. Orientations Toward Objects
  • 2. Sexual Orientation
  • 3. The Orient and Other Others
  • Conclusion: Disorientation and Queer Objects
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

ISBN: 9780822339144 [More]
Duke University Press| Paperback | 240pp | Now Available!

The Promise of Happiness

Written by Sara Ahmed

The Promise of Happiness is a provocative cultural critique of the imperative to be happy. It asks what follows when we make our desires and even our own happiness conditional on the happiness of others: “I just want you to be happy”; “I’m happy if you’re happy.” Combining philosophy and feminist cultural studies, Sara Ahmed reveals the affective and moral work performed by the “happiness duty,” the expectation that we will be made happy by taking part in that which is deemed good, and that by being happy ourselves, we will make others happy. Ahmed maintains that happiness is a promise that directs us toward certain life choices and away from others. Happiness is promised to those willing to live their lives in the right way.

Ahmed draws on the intellectual history of happiness, from classical accounts of ethics as the good life, through seventeenth-century writings on affect and the passions, eighteenth-century debates on virtue and education, and nineteenth-century utilitarianism. She engages with feminist, antiracist, and queer critics who have shown how happiness is used to justify social oppression, and how challenging oppression causes unhappiness. Reading novels and films including Mrs. Dalloway, The Well of Loneliness, Bend It Like Beckham, and Children of Men, Ahmed considers the plight of the figures who challenge and are challenged by the attribution of happiness to particular objects or social ideals: the feminist killjoy, the unhappy queer, the angry black woman, and the melancholic migrant. Through her readings she raises critical questions about the moral order imposed by the injunction to be happy.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Why Happiness, Why Now?
  • 1. Happy Objects
  • 2. Feminist Killjoys
  • 3. Unhappy Queers
  • 4. Melancholic Migrants
  • 5. Happy Futures
  • Conclusion: Happiness, Ethics, Possibility
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

ISBN: 9780822347255 [More]
Duke University Press| Paperback | 328 | Now Available!

Willful Subjects

Written by Sara Ahmed

In Willful Subjects Sara Ahmed explores willfulness as a charge often made by some against others. One history of will is a history of attempts to eliminate willfulness from the will. Delving into philosophical and literary texts, Ahmed examines the relation between will and willfulness, ill will and good will, and the particular will and general will. Her reflections shed light on how will is embedded in a political and cultural landscape, how it is embodied, and how will and willfulness are socially mediated. Attentive to the wayward, the wandering, and the deviant, Ahmed considers how willfulness is taken up by those who have received its charge. Grounded in feminist, queer, and antiracist politics, her sui generis analysis of the willful subject, the figure who wills wrongly or wills too much, suggests that willfulness might be required to recover from the attempt at its elimination.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: A Willfulness Archive
  • 1. Willing Subjects
  • 2. The Good Will
  • 3. The General Will
  • 4. Willfulness as a Style of Politics
  • Conclusion: A Call to Arms
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

ISBN: 9780822357834 [More]
Duke University Press| Paperback | 320 | Now Available!


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