Book part:
Affect: On the Turn

Author(s): Stenner, Paul

For some influential advocates of the “affective turn,” the concept of affect stands for a spontaneous, collective, subjective and progressive becoming-other that promises “new possibilities” that are never quite articulated. This perspective has great potential, but risks lapsing into a naïve celebration of affect that is ill-equipped to grasp the negative aspects and uses of experiences of becoming (i.e., liminal experience). A liminal occasion is an occasion of passage between categories during which, for whatever reason, the forms of process associated with modes of being are subject to metamorphosis. A focus on liminality, it will be argued, has two chief advantages. First, it allows us to focus on the affectivity that comes into play when we, or our circumstances, are in the process of transformation. This highlights the fact that many of the positive, exciting, desirable features attributed to “affect” are characteristics of liminal occasions, but also that these occasions can have a darker side. A second advantage is that it encourages us to recognize the long history through which different “technologies” have emerged to manage, generate and communicate the liminal affectivity typical of liminal occasions. The oldest of these “liminal affective technologies” is ritual, which dates back to prehistoric times. Without denying the distinctiveness of the present moment, in which affectivity is routinely summoned and manipulated by a host of new technological means, this argument opens up new ways of locating our present within a broader genealogy.

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Preferred Citation
Stenner, Paul: Affect: On the Turn. In: Bösel, Bernd;Wiemer, Serjoscha: Affective Transformations: Politics-Algorithms-Media. Lüneburg: meson 2020, S. 19-39. DOI:
 author = {Stenner, Paul},
 title = {Affect: On the Turn},
 year = 2020,
 doi = "\url{}",
 editor = {Bösel, Bernd and Wiemer, Serjoscha},
 address = {Lüneburg},
 booktitle = {Affective Transformations: Politics-Algorithms-Media},
 pages = {19--39},
 publisher = {meson},
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