Feeling Capitalism

Cynthia Sear (University of Melbourne )
Hannah Gould (University of Melbourne)
Chancellery Building, A1-018
Session slots:

Short abstract:

How is Capitalism felt and how does it make us feel? This panel seeks papers which explore the sensorial, affective and emotional dimensions of life under Capitalism.

Long abstract:

Writing of the factory, Gramsci noted the peculiar capacity of Capitalism to penetrate through to our very "nervous system" (1997, p.300). Inspired by this observation, this panel aims to explore the emotional, affective and sensorial dimensions of Capitalism.  We ask: how is Capitalism felt and how does Capitalism make us feel? To address these questions, we welcome papers which explore distinctly Capitalist forms of affect. We consider affect both in terms of broad structures of feeling, such as Post-Fordist Affect (Berlant 2007), as well as in relation to localized forms of production, such as affective labour (Hochschild 1983). We invite other theoretically driven understandings of affect, so long as they are ethnographically explored through distinctly Capitalist experiences. In line with the anthropological turn to "sensuous scholarship" (Stoler 1997), we also seek papers which emphasize the embodied experience of capitalist settings, projects and activities, and in particular, move beyond the ocular in their focus. For example, the function of smell in retailing or the importance of sounds and music in various workplaces. Finally, we encourage submissions which explore the role of emotion in Capitalist practices. While emotion has at times been understood as a codified incarnation of affect (Mazzarella 2009), earlier work in the discipline defines emotion as a dynamistic expression in its own right (cf. Lutz and White 1986). Therefore, papers may consider the role of emotion in influencing career and consumption decisions or the manner in which emotion is influenced and/or produced by advertising and marketing.