Tag: affect

cfp: Affect and Violence: Gendering the Middle East

See below the CfP for upcoming workshop ‘Affect and Violence: Gendering the Middle East’ as part of the Gender Studies 2019 Conference: On Violence, to be held at the University of Helsinki, 24-26 October.  For any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact Sara Tafakori (s.tafakori[at]lse.ac.uk) and/or Dr Sabiha Allouche (sa130[at]soas.ac.uk). The deadline for abstracts is 30 April.

Affect and Violence: Gendering the Middle East

The aim of the proposed workshop is to explore the role of emotions and affect in (re)presenting, normalizing and shaping the contours of gender and violence in reference to the Middle East and North Africa in particular and the global south more broadly. There has been a good deal of scholarly attention in recent years to affects around conflict, disaster, vulnerability and trauma, but largely in relation to Euro-American perspectives and theorisations. This workshop aims instead to engage with the ways in which emotional framings of violence and gender in the MENA region are shaped by the co-constitution of local and global, West and non-West, and the historical and the everyday within transnational contexts.  We encourage submissions which examine in what ways the geopolitics of nationalism, (in)security, conflict and crisis in the region reinforce or complicate gendered and racialised discourses, and how the tasks of solidarity are rendered more complex and layered as a result.  These concerns may be shaped by attention to the broader context of the role of epistemic violence in constructions of the region, in the biopolitics and necropolitics of managing the life and death of populations.

We welcome papers which speak to these or related issues.  Contributions may address the role of affect in, for example, orientalising and racialising regimes of grievability and vulnerability; emotional narratives of gendered violence in online and/or offline popular culture, including visual mediations of violence; banal and ordinary framings of violence and gender vis-à-vis singular moments of crisis and rupture; non-Western security imaginaries; violence in collective memory and narratives of trauma; diasporic and migratory geographies of affect, gender and violence.

Please make sure the abstract includes:  (1) how the proposal is related to the theme of the workshop and (2) the main ideas and key points of the proposed presentation. Abstracts should be no more than 250 words (2000 characters including spaces) in length.  Please include the main research question, outline methodology/methods, research materials/data and preliminary outcomes if the proposal is an academic research paper. The deadline for abstracts is 30 April. For more details, please see the link below:

https://www.helsinki.fi/en/conferences/gender-studies-2019-conferenceFor guidelines on how to submit your abstract, please see the link below:


Affect and Social Media#4 cfp deadline 15th Sept 2018


Happy to say that we’ve already received a few very good looking submissions for the A&SM#4: Notifications from Technological Nonconscious conference.

There’s a full cfp (deadline 15th Sept) plus updated information on the conference on this page of the Virality blog: https://viralcontagion.blog/affect-social-media4/

A&SM#4 will be held at East London’s USS building in Stratford on Nov 7th 2018.

Our confirmed keynote speaker is Patricia Ticineto Clough followed by a keynote panel including Jessica Ringrose (UCL), Amit Rai (Queen Mary), Rebecca Coleman (Goldsmiths), Darren Ellis and Ian Tucker (East London).

I’m really looking forward to putting together the programme for this one!


Image by Francesco Tacchini

Call for Papers for A&SM#4: Notifications from the Technological Nonconscious

Affect & Social Media#4: Notifications from the Technological Nonconscious

Conference date: Wednesday, November 7th 2018

Venue: University Square Stratford Building, East London, UK

Keynote: Patricia Ticineto Clough

Keynote Panel (tbc)

Conference Information Page: https://viralcontagion.wordpress.com/affect-social-media4/


To mark the publication of the first Affect and Social Media book (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2018) we are very pleased to announce a cfp for a special A&SM#4 one day (free registration) conference.

We welcome 250 word abstracts for 15min presentations from scholars working across disciplinary borders, theories, concepts and methodologies (arts & humanities, social sciences, psychology, computer and data science etc.).

We especially welcome contributions from postgraduate students and early career researchers.

Abstracts should ideally respond creatively (and flexibly) to one of the six conference themes set out below.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: Sept 15th 2018.

Send a 250 word abstract as an email (no attachments) including full name, affiliation and email contact address to t.d.sampson@uel.ac.uk

Accepted abstracts will help to frame a series of subsequent discussion points/questions that will be addressed by our keynote panel (to be announced shortly).

Conference Themes

  1. Unthinking

The exponential rise of social media in the early twenty first century has drawn much critical attention in the humanities to a seemingly paradoxical human-computer relation. On one hand, human thought is both contemporaneous with, and frequently outperformed by, the uber-cognitions of corporate computational media technology. There is, indeed, much concern expressed about the possible absence of human consciousness from the computational world it created (Hayles, 2017; Hansen, 2015). On the other hand though, it would seem that the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and experiences of social media users, far from disappearing, are, often by design, captured and nudged from here to there by an expanding yet mostly imperceptible technological nonconscious (Clough, 2000, Thrift, 2007, Grusin, 2010). What, if anything, is disappearing in the human-computer relation?

  1. Addicting    

Computational media can no longer simply be defined through the operations of narrowly defined cognitive machines implicated in clandestine data harvesting and the manipulation of individual users through e.g. psychographic profiling. Social media is a “social” machine of capture that works on relations and shared felt experiences (Sampson, Maddison and Ellis, 2018), triggering habitual tendencies (Chun, 2016) that seem to produce mass media addictions (Bartlett and Bowden-Jones, 2017). As a major component part of the propagation of the technological nonconscious, social media is less defined today by the familiar ease of connection discourses of Web 2.0 than it is by the difficulty of disconnection (Karppi, 2018). Like other media of addiction (drugs, gambling, sex), social media hooks users in the event of the habit refrain, triggering subsequent emotional anxieties and contagions. Is social media addiction a problem of personal compulsion or collective masochism?

  1. Feeling 

Computational social media is a feeling machine. It feels, or prehends, the event (Ellis, 2018). But this does not mean that it has feelings, in the sense in which humans feel. There are limitations imposed on the potential of affective computing to actually feel (Shaviro, 2015). Social media is constrained to the mere reading of sentiment data, and like an actor, it can feign expressions of human emotion, but cannot feel them. However, the operational level of computational media can learn, algorithmically, from emotional experiences. It can pass on, or transmit, feelings. It can plant a behavioural hook in the user experience. Social media has an affective tone or atmosphere through which the human-computer relation strives. Feeling the event is a different matter.

  1. Sleeping

Always on social media never sleeps! “Prolonged awakening, work without the limit of time, excessive light, surplus information… links… attentional capture is the new Atopia” (Neyrat, 2017). But the users of social media are often positioned as vulnerable, sleepwalking user-subjects: the user unconscious (Clough, 2018), the network somnambulist (Sampson, 2012, 2016). Like Crary’s (1999) earlier rendition of attentive analogue media subjects, the users of social media are simultaneously attentive and inattentive, and attracted and distracted by the fascinations of notifications, posts, tweets, likes, shares… This technological nonconscious, or Unthought (Hayles, 2017) human-computer relation is not unconscious, as conventionally understood.

  1. Dreaming

In The User Unconscious: On Affect. Media, and Measure (2018), Patricia Ticineto Clough argues that computational media networks have fundamentally affected what it means to be human. “We are both human and other-than-human.” This luminous text explains what it means to live, think, and dream from this “other-than-human perspective.” Here Clough moves to answer questions concerning the extent to which human lives are now animated in the multiple layers of these vast computational networks and how these layers radically transform our sense of self, subjectivity, sociality, and unconscious processes. How can we probe what it means to live, think, and dream through this newly animated technological nonconscious?

  1. Trumping

Who is to blame for Trump? Trump on Twitter may seem like the unpredictable personal opinions of a racist, sexist, xenophobe that infects a population, but the technological nonconscious, or thing-self of the user unconscious, as Clough points out, “transgress[es] the separation of the personal and the networked.” It is the “affective tone” of social media itself that made Trump possible! Social media has given expressive support to a kind of microfascist populism or “population racism” that is currently spreading everywhere. What will it take to out trump the collective impulse that is Trump?

Top illustration by Francesco Tacchini, 2015


Call for Papers: Leaking affects and mediated spaces

Call for Papers: Leaking affects and mediated spaces for the Fourth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies
1-3 July 2013 at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Session: Leaking affects and mediated spaces.

Session organisers: Darren Ellis, John Cromby, Lewis Goodings, Tony Sampson and Ian Tucker

We seem to possess the ability to move and to be greatly moved by our daily interactions with increasingly complex forms of electronic media. We are soaked in the seepage of affective information about others (other humans, other beings, other spaces) and continually leak similar stuff about ourselves, both intentionally and unintentionally, and often somewhere in-between the two. For example, signified affective states are issued through the often mundane emoticons ():), kisses (x), and curses (f**k); and our pleasures and pursuits can be captured by sophisticated algorithms that track internet activity. Perhaps digitised space has opened the way to new realms of affective contagions, transactions, communications and doings. To what extent then do we get a sense of the affect-trails that we leave behind and those that we pick up? What kinds of senses are involved and how might we experience them on a day to day basis? Indeed what are the possibilities and limitations of sharing, imparting and capturing affects across this electronic ether? Is there a flattening of affect or is something qualitatively different occurring? Central to these questions are notions of distribution and spatial expression, and the need to understand the affective nature (or not) of the relations and connections between bodies and technologies that form our everyday territories. The sessions that make up this proposal seek to explore these issues in a number of theoretical and empirical ways, with interest in (although not limited to) areas such as surveillance, social media and embodiment.

Key Questions: How do we understand the multiple and fluid ways that affect becomes distributed across and through bodies, technologies and spaces? How is affect marked out and made visible in mediated online spaces? Is affect still a useful way for configuring the expression of intensive processes spatially?

Paper proposals are invited focusing on (although are not limited to):


Social Media


Digital and non-digital topology

Body-technology relations

Novel empirical approaches to studies of affect

Please send abstracts of up to 250 words to Darren Ellis (D.Ellis@uel.ac.uk) before the 20th of January 2013

Animal Societies of Imitation

Tarde’s Animal Societies of Imitation

Having watched this canary-like beluga whale doing a very bizarre bugle imitation this week reminded me of Tarde’s interest in animal societies. In the short piece below (adapted from a full article due to be published in the Scandinavian journal Distinktion in December) these references to the imitative cerebral functioning of animals are used to think through nonrepresentational theory as well as open up various questions on the primacy of affect.

Imitation is Nonrepresentational

Tarde’s unconscious association is not structured like a language. It is mostly nonrepresentational. That is to say, imitative cerebral functions reach out to the social world in ways that surpass language. Like animal societies, who, Tarde declares, ‘seem to understand one another almost without signs, as if through a kind of psychological electrisation by suggestion,’ (Tarde 1903, 204) the social seems to be composed of molecular flows of desire, sensations and feelings that influence cognitive beliefs and social action. It is thought that simple beliefs emerge from sensations of pain or nausea helping certain animals to determine what foodstuff is nutritious or harmful (Griffiths 1997, 26-27). In humans more complex feelings relating to hope, fear, anxiety, love, anger and willing seem to trigger more complex beliefs and actions. The point though is not to distinguish between rudimentary animal and complex human beliefs systems. I am not claiming here that animals possess religious beliefs, for example. Instead what Tarde argues corresponds to some extent with noncognitive approaches insofar as he regarded both humans and animals to have thoughts that do not represent a thing but are transmitted through feelings that potentially have a mind of their own (Zajonc 1980).

Affective Contagion?

So does the society of imitation point to the primacy of affect?Tarde certainly agreed with Bergson that the intensity of sensations needed to be considered apart from their relation to reason (Tarde 1903, 145). However, he strongly contended that ‘belief and desire bear a unique character that is well adapted to distinguish them from simple sensation’ (Tarde 1903, 145). Unlike the visual or auditory felt sensations, experienced in a theatre for example, which can simultaneously affect the attentive crowd, beliefs and desires have an intensity that may become, when ‘experienced by everybody else around,’ contagious (Tarde 1903, 145). It is, Tarde argues, the ‘contagion of mutual example’ which ‘re-enforces [and weakens] beliefs and desires’ according to whether or not they are alike or dissimilar, experienced together, or at the same time (Tarde 1903, 145). As Deleuze notes, Tarde’s flows of desire and belief are, unlike qualitative sensations and resultant representations, ‘veritable social Quantities’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 219). Desire and belief are indeed ‘the two aspects of every assemblage,’ and the ‘basis of every society’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 219).

Memes versus Contagious Assemblages

Tarde’s society of imitation has multiple territorial arrangements which can be understood through the Deleuzo-Guattarian conceptions of refrains and lines of flight. As a pianist Guattari grasped how the rhythm of a ritornello composes the time and space in which music is played (Dosse, 2010, 253). How the return to a repeated theme brings together the singularities of an improvisation and the repetition of imitation brings unity to composition. Like Guattari, Tarde used the example of birdsong refrains to think through how species produce territorial unity. The memetic bird is generally understood to imitate the song of their mothers, and others in their specie line, so as to delineate territorial boundaries. However, territorial unity is complicated by what appears to be the many examples of cross-kingdom imitation. As Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 302) suggest, the ‘labor of the refrain’ can be used for ‘very subtle deterritorializations.’ It does not remain territorial, but ‘selective lines of flight’ transverse ‘across all coordinates—and all of the intermediaries between the two,’ before lapsing back into the refrain. Quite unlike memetic birdsong which requires a particular species to learn an exact copy of a catchy song before passing it down the hereditary line, the Tardean bird reaches out and borrows from an arrangement of interconnecting lines of communication. Like Proust’s fat bumble bee fertilizing the orchid, the social reaches outside the species line to borrow the desires and inventions of others. Tarde in fact refers to a ‘deep-seated desire to imitate for the sake of imitation,’ noting how ‘[a] mocking-bird can imitate a cock’s crow so accurately that the very hens are deceived’ (Tarde 1903, 67). Imitative birdsong, as Guattari similarly argues, becomes an unintentional occupation of frequencies (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 331). The more birds, the more the species lines get crossed, and the more lines of communication get crossed, the more the refrains are exposed to the outside. The social relation becomes a multiplicity ‘defined by the outside: by the abstract line, the line of flight or deterritorialization according to which they change in nature and connect with other multiplicities’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 9). The occupation becomes inseparable from the decomposing lines of flight that lead to other assemblages, producing an intermixing of birdsong. Think of it as a remixing or scrambling of codes which can lapse back into the refrain, disrupt its repetition, before becoming a new line of flight.

While memetics would perhaps render all endeavours made by animals to be social in the human world abortive due to their failure to evolve imitation into developed cognitive capacities lie language, Tarde contends that every animal, like every human ‘reaches out’ to the social life to satisfy their innate capacity to imitate (Tarde 1903, 67). This is Tarde’s ‘sine qua non of mental development,’ a precondition of all social life which predates language (Tarde 1903, 67). As he puts it, ‘[t]he adaptive capacity of cerebral functions, the mind, is distinguished from other functions in not being a simple adaptation of definite means to definite ends.’ (Tarde 1903, 67) The adaptive mind is ‘indeterminate’ and depends more or less on the chance ‘imitation of outside things’ (Tarde 1903, 67).  Prior to a late twentieth century neuroscientific understanding of a hardwired imitative capacity which may have evolved initially to help animals improve physical movements and eventually became available for more complex functions like language, Tarde located the social mind in an ‘infinite outside’ or ‘outer world’ of imitation-repetition (Tarde 1903, 67). Mutual examples are not simply imitated by way of top down, internalized cognitive processes of the mind, but also filter through the noncognitive sharing of feelings, sensations and emotions. These are reciprocated magnetisms that form part of a ‘universal nature’ – a ‘continual and irresistible action by suggestion upon the… brain and muscular system,’ (Tarde 1903, 67) which spreads through the social environment.


Deleuze, G and Guattari, F. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Continuum.

Dosse, F. 2010. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives. New York: Columbia University Press.

Griffiths, P. E. 1997. What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tarde, G. 1903. The Laws of Imitation, trans. E. C. Parsons. New York: Henry Holt.

Zajonc, R. B. 1980. Feeling and Thinking: Preferences need no inferences. American Psychologist. 35, no.2: 151-75.