Affective Politics, debility and hearing voices: towards a feminist politics of ordinary suffering

Blackman, Lisa. 2015. Affective Politics, debility and hearing voices: towards a feminist politics of ordinary suffering. Feminist Review, 111(1), pp. 25-41. ISSN 0141-7789 [Article]

No full text available
[img] Text
Feminist Review Lisa Blackman.pdf
Permissions: Administrator Access Only

Download (127kB)

Abstract or Description

This paper is an intervention within feminist and queer debates that have re-posed so-called negative states of being as offering productive possibilities for political practice and social transformation. What is sometimes called the politics of negative affect or analyses of political feeling has sought to de-pathologise shame, melancholy, failure, depression, anxieties and other forms of ‘feeling bad’, to open up new ways of thinking about agency, change and transformation. Ann Cvetkovich’s recent memoir explores depression as a public feeling and argues that ‘feeling bad might, in fact, be the ground for transformation’. As she suggests, the question, ‘how do I feel’ could usefully be reframed as ‘how does capitalism feel’? This performative staging of political forms of psychosocial reflexivity opens up new strategies for survival, new visions of the future, and importantly de-medicalises feeling beyond an individual expression of psychopathology. The grounds for affective politics might be found within new feminist futures that are attentive to the relations between emotion, affect, feelings and politics. This paper will be situated within these debates and the challenge of thinking about the productive possibilities of negative states of being. However, rather than focus on depression, I will turn my attention to experiences such as psychosis and temporal dissociation, based on my long-standing research with the Hearing Voices Network. In the context of discussions of disability and capability I will discuss the value of concepts such as debility, and ‘living in prognosis’, and respond to the call to think through what such states might offer for feminist and queer practice.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


affect; debility; feminism; queer studies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


10 November 2015Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 Nov 2015 20:29

Last Modified:

21 May 2020 14:10

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)