Do All Individuals Experience Feelings The Same Way? In a minimum of 2 pages, answer this question using a philosophical lens. This question must be addres

Do All Individuals Experience Feelings The Same Way?

In a minimum of 2 pages, answer this question using a philosophical lens. This question must be addressed and answered from at least two of the texts/authors. 

The Cultural Politics of Emotion

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The Cultural Politics of Emotion
second edition

Sara Ahmed

© Sara Ahmed, 2004, 2014

First edition published by Edinburgh University Press in 2004

Second edition 2014

Edinburgh University Press Ltd
The Tun – Holyrood Road
12 (2f) Jackson’s Entry
Edinburgh EH8 8PJ

Typeset in 11 on 13 pt Ehrhardt by
SNP Best-set Typesetter Ltd, Hong Kong, and
new material by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire
Printed and bound in Great Britain by
CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY

A CIP record for this book is available from the British

ISBN 978 0 7486 9113 5 (paperback)
ISBN 978 0 7486 9114 2 (webready PDF)
ISBN 978 0 7486 9115 9 (epub)

The right of Sara Ahmed
to be identified as author of this work
has been asserted in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988,
and the Copyright and Related Rights
Regulations 2003 (SI No. 2498).


Acknowledgements vi
Acknowledgements for the Second Edtion vii

Introduction: Feel Your Way 1

1 The Contingency of Pain 20

2 The Organisation of Hate 42

3 The Affective Politics of Fear 62

4 The Performativity of Disgust 82

5 Shame Before Others 101

6 In the Name of Love 122

7 Queer Feelings 144

8 Feminist Attachments 168

Conclusion: Just Emotions 191

Afterword: Emotions and Their Objects 204

References 234

Index 249

Every day of every year, swarms of illegal immigrants and bogus
asylum seekers invade Britain by any means available to them . . .
Why? They are only seeking the easy comforts and free benefits in
Soft Touch Britain. All funded by YOU – The British Taxpayer!
(British National Front Poster)1

How does a nation come to be imagined as having a ‘soft touch’? How does
this ‘having’ become a form of ‘being’, or a national attribute? In The
Cultural Politics of Emotion, I explore how emotions work to shape the ‘sur-
faces’ of individual and collective bodies. Bodies take the shape of the very
contact they have with objects and others. My analysis proceeds by reading
texts that circulate in the public domain, which work by aligning subjects with
collectives by attributing ‘others’ as the ‘source’ of our feelings. In this quote
from the British National Front, ‘the others’, who are named as illegal immi-
grants and bogus asylum seekers, threaten to overwhelm and swamp the
nation. This is, of course, a familiar narrative, and like all familiar narratives,
it deserves close and careful reading. The narrative works through othering;
the ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘bogus asylum seekers’ are those who are ‘not us’,
and who in not being us, endanger what is ours. Such others threaten to take
away from what ‘you’ have, as the legitimate subject of the nation, as the one
who is the true recipient of national benefits. The narrative invites the reader
to adopt the ‘you’ through working on emotions: becoming this ‘you’ would
mean developing a certain rage against these illegitimate others, who are rep-
resented as ‘swarms’ in the nation. Indeed, to feel love for the nation, whereby
love is an investment that should be returned (you are ‘the taxpayer’), is also
to feel injured by these others, who are ‘taking’ what is yours.

It is not the case, however, that anybody within the nation could inhabit
this ‘you’. These short sentences depend on longer histories of articulation,

Introduction: Feel Your Way

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which secure the white subject as sovereign in the nation, at the same time
as they generate effects in the alignment of ‘you’ with the national body. In
other words, the ‘you’ implicitly evokes a ‘we’, a group of subjects who can
identify themselves with the injured nation in this performance of personal
injury. Within the British National Front, the ‘we’ of the nation is only avail-
able to white Aryans: ‘We will reinstate the values of separatism to our racial
kindred. We will teach the youth that one’s country is the family, the past,
the sacred race itself . . . We live in a nation that is historically Aryan’.2 This
alignment of family, history and race is powerful, and works to transform
whiteness into a familial tie, into a form of racial kindred that recognises all
non-white others as strangers, as ‘bodies out of place’ (Ahmed 2000).3 The
narrative is addressed to white Aryans, and equates the vulnerability of the
white nation with the vulnerability of the white body. ‘YOU’ will not be soft!
Or will you?

What is so interesting in this narrative is how ‘soft touch’ becomes a
national character. This attribution is not specific to fascist discourses. In
broader public debates about asylum in the United Kingdom, one of the most
common narratives is that Britain is a ‘soft touch’: others try and ‘get into’
the nation because they can have a life with ‘easy comforts’.4 The British
Government has transformed the narrative of ‘the soft touch’ into an imper-
ative: it has justified the tightening of asylum policies on the grounds that
‘Britain will not be a soft touch’. Indeed, the metaphor of ‘soft touch’ sug-
gests that the nation’s borders and defences are like skin; they are soft, weak,
porous and easily shaped or even bruised by the proximity of others. It sug-
gests that the nation is made vulnerable to abuse by its very openness to
others. The soft nation is too emotional, too easily moved by the demands of
others, and too easily seduced into assuming that claims for asylum, as tes-
timonies of injury, are narratives of truth. To be a ‘soft touch nation’ is to
be taken in by the bogus: to ‘take in’ is to be ‘taken in’. The demand is that
the nation should seal itself from others, if it is to act on behalf of its citi-
zens, rather than react to the claims of immigrants and other others. The
implicit demand is for a nation that is less emotional, less open, less easily
moved, one that is ‘hard’, or ‘tough’. The use of metaphors of ‘softness’ and
‘hardness’ shows us how emotions become attributes of collectives, which get
constructed as ‘being’ through ‘feeling’. Such attributes are of course gen-
dered: the soft national body is a feminised body, which is ‘penetrated’ or
‘invaded’ by others.

It is significant that the word ‘passion’ and the word ‘passive’ share the
same root in the Latin word for ‘suffering’ (passio). To be passive is to be
enacted upon, as a negation that is already felt as suffering. The fear of pas-
sivity is tied to the fear of emotionality, in which weakness is defined in terms
of a tendency to be shaped by others. Softness is narrated as a proneness to


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injury. The association between passion and passivity is instructive. It works
as a reminder of how ‘emotion’ has been viewed as ‘beneath’ the faculties of
thought and reason. To be emotional is to have one’s judgement affected: it
is to be reactive rather than active, dependent rather than autonomous. Fem-
inist philosophers have shown us how the subordination of emotions also
works to subordinate the feminine and the body (Spelman 1989; Jaggar 1996).
Emotions are associated with women, who are represented as ‘closer’ to
nature, ruled by appetite, and less able to transcend the body through
thought, will and judgement.

We can see from this language that evolutionary thinking has been crucial
to how emotions are understood: emotions get narrated as a sign of ‘our’ pre-
history, and as a sign of how the primitive persists in the present. The Dar-
winian model of emotions suggests that emotions are not only ‘beneath’ but
‘behind’ the man/human, as a sign of an earlier and more primitive time. As
Darwin puts it:

With mankind some expressions, such as the bristling of the hair
under the influence of extreme terror, or the uncovering of the teeth
under that of furious rage, can hardly be understood, except on the
belief that man once existed in a much lower and animal-like
condition. (Darwin 1904: 13–14)

Such an evolutionary model allows us to return to the ‘risk’ of emotions
posited through the attribution of ‘soft touch’ as a national characteristic.
The risk of being a ‘soft touch’ for the nation, and for the national subject,
is not only the risk of becoming feminine, but also of becoming ‘less white’,
by allowing those who are recognised as racially other to penetrate the surface
of the body. Within such a narrative, becoming less white would involve
moving backwards in time, such that one would come to resemble a more
primitive form of social life, or a ‘lower and animal like condition’.

The hierarchy between emotion and thought/reason gets displaced, of
course, into a hierarchy between emotions: some emotions are ‘elevated’ as
signs of cultivation, whilst others remain ‘lower’ as signs of weakness. The
story of evolution is narrated not only as the story of the triumph of reason,
but of the ability to control emotions, and to experience the ‘appropriate’
emotions at different times and places (Elias 1978). Within contemporary
culture, emotions may even be represented as good or better than thought,
but only insofar as they are re-presented as a form of intelligence, as ‘tools’
that can be used by subjects in the project of life and career enhancement
(Goleman 1995). If good emotions are cultivated, and are worked on and
towards, then they remain defined against uncultivated or unruly emotions,
which frustrate the formation of the competent self. Those who are ‘other’


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to me or us, or those that threaten to make us other, remain the source of bad
feeling in this model of emotional intelligence. It is not difficult to see how
emotions are bound up with the securing of social hierarchy: emotions
become attributes of bodies as a way of transforming what is ‘lower’ or
‘higher’ into bodily traits.

So emotionality as a claim about a subject or a collective is clearly depen-
dent on relations of power, which endow ‘others’ with meaning and value.
In this book, I do not want to think about emotionality as a characteristic of
bodies, whether individual or collective. In fact, I want to reflect on the
processes whereby ‘being emotional’ comes to be seen as a characteristic of
some bodies and not others, in the first place. In order to do this, we need to
consider how emotions operate to ‘make’ and ‘shape’ bodies as forms of
action, which also involve orientations towards others. Emotions, for the
British National Front, may pose a danger to the national body of appearing
soft. But the narrative itself is an emotional one: the reading of others as
bogus is a reaction to the presence of others. Hardness is not the absence of
emotion, but a different emotional orientation towards others. The hard white
body is shaped by its reactions: the rage against others surfaces as a body that
stands apart or keeps its distance from others. We shouldn’t look for emo-
tions ‘in’ soft bodies.5 Emotions shape the very surfaces of bodies, which take
shape through the repetition of actions over time, as well as through orien-
tations towards and away from others. Indeed, attending to emotions might
show us how all actions are reactions, in the sense that what we do is shaped
by the contact we have with others. In Spinoza’s terms, emotions shape what
bodies can do, as ‘the modifications of the body by which the power of action
on the body is increased or diminished’ (Spinoza 1959: 85).

So rather than asking ‘What are emotions?’, I will ask, ‘What do emotions
do?’. In asking this question, I will not offer a singular theory of emotion, or
one account of the work that emotions do. Rather, I will track how emotions
circulate between bodies, examining how they ‘stick’ as well as move. In this
introduction, my task will be to situate my account of the ‘cultural politics’
of emotion within a very partial account of the history of thinking on emo-
tions. I will not offer a full review of this history, which would be an impos-
sible task.6 It is important to indicate here that even if emotions have been
subordinated to other faculties, they have still remained at the centre of intel-
lectual history. As a reader of this history, I have been overwhelmed by how
much ‘emotions’ have been a ‘sticking point’ for philosophers, cultural the-
orists, psychologists, sociologists, as well as scholars from a range of other
disciplines. This is not surprising: what is relegated to the margins is often,
as we know from deconstruction, right at the centre of thought itself. In the
face of this history, my task is a modest one: to show how my thinking has
been informed by my contact with some work on emotions.


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do?’ In asking this question, I will not offer a singular theory of emotion, or


One way of reflecting on this history of thinking about emotion is to con-
sider the debate about the relation between emotion, bodily sensation and
cognition.7 One could characterise a significant ‘split’ in theories of emotion
in terms of whether emotions are tied primarily to bodily sensations or to
cognition. The former view is often ascribed to Descartes and David Hume.
It would also be well-represented by the work of William James, who has the
following formulation: ‘The bodily changes follow directly the perception of
the exciting fact . . . and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur
IS the emotion’ ( James 1890: 449). Emotion is the feeling of bodily change.
The immediacy of the ‘is’ suggests that emotions do not involve processes
of thought, attribution or evaluation: we feel fear, for example, because our
heart is racing, our skin is sweating. A cognitivist view would be represented
by Aristotle, and by a number of thinkers who follow him (Nussbaum 2001:
10). Such theorists suggest that emotions involve appraisals, judgements, atti-
tudes or a ‘specific manner of apprehending the world’ (Sartre 1962: 9),
which are irreducible to bodily sensations. Some theorists have described
emotions as being judgements (Solomon 1995), whilst others might point to
how they involve judgements: the emotion of anger, for example, implies a
judgement that something is bad, although we can be wrong in our judge-
ment (Spelman 1989: 266). Of course, many theorists suggest that emotions
involve sensations or bodily feeling as well as forms of cognition. But as
Alison M. Jaggar has suggested, the shift towards a more cognitive approach
has often been at the expense of an attention to bodily sensations (Spelman
1989: 170). Or when emotions are theorised as being about cognition as well
as sensation, then these still tend to be presented as different aspects of
emotion ( Jaggar 1996: 170).

To begin a rethinking of the relation between bodily sensation, emotion
and judgement we can turn to Descartes’ ‘The Passions of the Soul’. Whilst
this little book may be full of problematic distinctions between mind and
body, its observations on emotions are very suggestive. Descartes suggests
that objects do not excite diverse passions because they are diverse, but
because of the diverse ways in which they may harm or help us (Descartes
1985: 349). This is an intriguing formulation. Some commentators have sug-
gested that Descartes argues that emotions are reducible to sensations insofar
as they are caused by objects (Brentano 2003: 161; Greenspan 2003: 265). But
Descartes offers a critique of the idea that objects have causal properties, sug-
gesting that we don’t have feelings for objects because of the nature of
objects. Feelings instead take the ‘shape’ of the contact we have with objects
(see Chapter 1). As he argues, we do not love and hate because objects are
good or bad, but rather because they seem ‘beneficial’ or ‘harmful’ (Descartes


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1985: 350). Whether I perceive something as beneficial or harmful clearly
depends upon how I am affected by something. This dependence opens up
a gap in the determination of feeling: whether something is beneficial or
harmful involves thought and evaluation, at the same time that it is ‘felt’ by
the body. The process of attributing an object as being or not being benefi-
cial or harmful, which may become translated into good or bad, clearly
involves reading the contact we have with objects in a certain way. As I argue
in Chapter 1, whether something feels good or bad already involves a process
of reading, in the very attribution of significance. Contact involves the
subject, as well as histories that come before the subject. If emotions are
shaped by contact with objects, rather than being caused by objects, then
emotions are not simply ‘in’ the subject or the object. This does not mean
that emotions are not read as being ‘resident’ in subjects or objects: I will
show how objects are often read as the cause of emotions in the very process
of taking an orientation towards them.

If the contact with an object generates feeling, then emotion and sensa-
tion cannot be easily separated. A common way of describing the relation
between them is as a form of company: pleasure and pain become compan-
ions of love and hate, for example, in Aristotle’s formulation (2003: 6, see
also Spinoza 1959: 85). The idea of ‘companions’ does not do the trick pre-
cisely, given the implication that sensation and emotion can part company.
Instead, I want to suggest that the distinction between sensation and emotion
can only be analytic, and as such, is premised on the reification of a concept.
We can reflect on the word ‘impression’, used by David Hume in his work
on emotion (Hume 1964: 75). To form an impression might involve acts of
perception and cognition as well as an emotion. But forming an impression
also depends on how objects impress upon us. An impression can be an effect
on the subject’s feelings (‘she made an impression’). It can be a belief (‘to be
under an impression’). It can be an imitation or an image (‘to create an
impression’). Or it can be a mark on the surface (‘to leave an impression’).
We need to remember the ‘press’ in an impression. It allows us to associate the
experience of having an emotion with the very affect of one surface upon
another, an affect that leaves its mark or trace. So not only do I have an
impression of others, but they also leave me with an impression; they impress
me, and impress upon me. I will use the idea of ‘impression’ as it allows me
to avoid making analytical distinctions between bodily sensation, emotion
and thought as if they could be ‘experienced’ as distinct realms of human

So how do we form such impressions? Rethinking the place of the object
of feeling will allow us to reconsider the relation between sensation and
emotion. Within phenomenology, the turn away from what Elizabeth V.
Spelman calls the ‘Dumb View’ of emotions (Spelman 1989: 265), has


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involved an emphasis on intentionality. Emotions are intentional in the sense
that they are ‘about’ something: they involve a direction or orientation
towards an object (Parkinson 1995: 8). The ‘aboutness’ of emotions means
they involve a stance on the world, or a way of apprehending the world. Now,
I want to bring this model of the object as ‘about-ness’ into dialogue with
the model of contact implicit in Descartes.8 Emotions are both about objects,
which they hence shape, and are also shaped by contact with objects. Neither
of these ways of approaching an object presumes that the object has a mate-
rial existence; objects in which I am ‘involved’ can also be imagined (Heller
1979: 12). For example, I can have a memory of something, and that memory
might trigger a feeling (Pugmire 1998: 7). The memory can be the object of
my feeling in both senses: the feeling is shaped by contact with the memory,
and also involves an orientation towards what is remembered. So I might feel
pain when I remember this or that, and in remembering this or that, I might
attribute what is remembered as being painful.

Let’s use another example. The example that is often used in the psycho-
logical literature on emotions is a child and a bear.9 The child sees the bear
and is afraid. The child runs away. Now, the ‘Dumb View’ would be that the
bear makes the child afraid, and that the bodily symptoms of fear are auto-
matic (pulse rate, sweating, and so on). Functionalist models of emotion,
which draw on evolutionary theory, might say that the fear has a function: to
protect the child from danger, to allow survival. Fear in this situation could
be an instinctual reaction that has enhanced successful adaptation and thus
selection.10 Fear would also be an action; fear would even be ‘about’ what it
leads the child to do.11 But the story, even in its ‘bear bones’, is not so simple.
Why is the child afraid of the bear? The child must ‘already know’ the bear
is fearsome. This decision is not necessarily made by her, and it might not
even be dependent on past experiences. This could be a ‘first time’ encounter,
and the child still runs for it. But what is she running from? What does she
see when she sees the bear? We have an image of the bear as an animal to be
feared, as an image that is shaped by cultural histories and memories. When
we encounter the bear, we already have an impression of the risks of the
encounter, as an impression that is felt on the surface of the skin. This knowl-
edge is bodily, certainly: the child might not need time to think before she
runs for it. But the ‘immediacy’ of the reaction is not itself a sign of a lack
of mediation. It is not that the bear is fearsome, ‘on its own’, as it were. It is
fearsome to someone or somebody. So fear is not in the child, let alone in the
bear, but is a matter of how child and bear come into contact. This contact
is shaped by past histories of contact, unavailable in the present, which allow
the bear to be apprehended as fearsome. The story does not, despite this,
inevitably lead to the same ending. Another child, another bear, and we might
even have another story.


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It is not just that we might have an impression of bears, but ‘this bear’ also
makes an impression, and leaves an impression. Fear shapes the surfaces of
bodies in relation to objects. Emotions are relational: they involve (re)actions
or relations of ‘towardness’ or ‘awayness’ in relation to such objects. The bear
becomes the object in both senses: we have a contact with an object, and an
orientation towards that object. To be more specific, the ‘aboutness’ of fear
involves a reading of contact: the child reads the contact as dangerous,
which involves apprehending the bear as fearsome. We can note also that
the ‘reading’ then identifies the bear as the cause of the feeling. The child
becomes fearful, and the bear becomes fearsome: the attribution of feeling to
an object (I feel afraid because you are fearsome) is an effect of the encounter,
which moves the subject away from the object. Emotions involve such affec-
tive forms of reorientation.

Of course, if we change the bear to a horse, we might even get to the
father.12 If the object of feeling both shapes and is shaped by emotions, then
the object of feeling is never simply before the subject. How the object
impresses (upon) us may depend on histories that remain alive insofar as they
have already left their impressions. The object may stand in for other objects,
or may be proximate to other objects. Feelings may stick to some objects, and
slide over others.13 In this book, I offer an analysis of affective economies,
where feelings do not reside in subjects or objects, but are produced as effects
of circulation (see Chapter 2). The circulation of objects allows us to think
about the ‘sociality’ of emotion.


What do I mean by the sociality of emotion? Before I can answer this ques-
tion, we must firstly register what might seem too obvious: the everyday lan-
guage of emotion is based on the presumption of interiority. If I was thinking
about emotions, I would probably assume that I need to look inwards, asking
myself, ‘How do I feel?’ Such a model of emotion as interiority is crucial to
psychology. Indeed, the emergence of psychology as a discipline had signif-
icant consequences for theories of emotion: by becoming an ‘object lesson’
for psychology, emotions have been psychologised (White 1993: 29). In a
psychological model, I have feelings, and they are mine. As K. T. Strongman
states, ‘Above all, emotion is centred internally, in subjective feelings’
(Strongman 2003: 3). I may express my feelings: I may laugh, cry, or shake
my head. Once what is inside has got out, when I have expressed my feelings
in this way, then my feelings also become yours, and you may respond to
them.14 If you sympathise, then we might have ‘fellow-feeling’ (Denzin 1984:
148). If you don’t understand, we might feel alienated from each other


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(Scheff 1994: 3).15 The logic here is that I have feelings, which then move
outwards towards objects and others, and which might even return to me. I
will call this the ‘inside out’ model of emotions.

In critiquing this model, I am joining sociologists and anthropologists who
have argued that emotions should not be regarded as psychological states, but
as social and cultural practices (Lutz and Abu-Lughod 1990; White 1993: 29;
Rosaldo 1984: 138, 141; Hochschild 1983: 5; Kemper 1978: 1; Katz 1999:2;
Williams 2001: 73; Collins 1990: 27). I want to offer a model of sociality of
emotion, which is distinct from this literature, as well as informed by it. Take
Durkheim’s classic account of emotions. He argues in The Rules of Sociolog-
ical Method that sociology is about recognising constraint: ‘Most of our ideas
and our tendencies are not developed by ourselves but come to us from
without. How can they become a part of us except by imposing themselves
upon us?’ (Durkheim 1966: 4). Here, the sociological realm is defined as the
imposition of ‘the without’ on the individual subject. This demarcation of
‘the sociological’ becomes a theory of emotion as a social form, rather than
individual self-expression. Durkheim considers the rise of emotion in
crowds, suggesting that such ‘great movements’ of feeling, ‘do not originate
in any one of the particular individual consciousnesses’ (Durkheim 1966: 4).
Here, the individual is no longer the origin of feeling; feeling itself comes
from without. Durkheim’s later work on religion suggests that such feelings
do not remain ‘without’. As he notes: ‘This force must also penetrate us and
organise itself within us; it thus becomes an integral part of our being and
by that very fact this is elevated and magnified’ (Durkheim 1976: 209). For
Durkheim, then, emotion is not what comes from the individual body, but is
what holds or binds the social body together (Collins 1990: 27).

This argument about the sociality of emotions takes a similar form to the
psychological one, though with an obvious change of direction. The ‘inside
out’ model has become an ‘outside in’ model. Both assume the objectivity of
the very distinction between inside and outside, the individual and the social,
and the ‘me’ and the ‘we’. Rather than emotions being understood as coming
from within and moving outwards, emotions are assumed to come from without
and move inward. An ‘outside in’ model is also evident in approaches to ‘crowd
psychology’, where it is assumed that the crowd has feelings, and that the
individual gets drawn into the crowd by feeling the crowd’s feelings as its
own. As Graham Little puts it: ‘Emotions run the other way, too: sometimes
starting “out there” – and Diana’s death is a prime example of this – but
linking up with something in us so that we feel drawn in and become per-
sonally involved’ (Little 1999: 4). The example of Diana’s death is useful. An
outside in model might suggest that feelings of grief existed in the crowd,
and only then got taken on by individuals, a reading which has led to accu-
sations that such grief was inauthentic, a sign of being ‘taken in’.16


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outwards towards objects and others, and which might then return to me. I

Indeed the ‘outside in’ model is problematic precisely because it assumes
that emotions are something that ‘we have’. The crowd becomes like the indi-
vidual, the one who ‘has feelings’. Feelings become a form of social presence
rather than self-presence. In my model of sociality of emotions, I suggest
that emotions create the very effect of the surfaces and boundaries that allow
us to distinguish an inside and an outside in the first place. So emotions are
not simply something ‘I’ or ‘we’ have. Rather, it is through emotions, or how
we respond to objects and others, that surfaces or boundaries are made: the
‘I’ and the ‘we’ are shaped by, and even take the shape of, contact with others.
To return to my argument in the previous section, the surfaces of bodies
‘surface’ as an effect of the impressions left by others. I will show how the
surfaces of collective as well as individual bodies take shape through such
impressions. In suggesting that emotions create the very effect of an inside
and an outside, I am not then simply claiming that emotions are psycholog-
ical and social, individual and collective. My model refuses the abbreviation
of the ‘and’. Rather, I suggest that emotions are crucial to the very constitu-
tion of the psychic and the social as objects, a process which suggests that
the ‘objectivity’ of the psychic and social is an effect rather than a cause.

In other words, emotions are not ‘in’ either the individual or the social, but
produce the very surfaces and boundaries that allow the individual and the
social to be delineated as if they are objects. My analysis will show how emo-
tions create the very surfaces and boundaries that allow all kinds of objects
to be delineated. The objects of emotion take shape as effects of circulation.
In suggesting emotions circulate, I am not offering a model of emotion as
contagion (see Izard 1977: 106). The model of emotional contagion, which
is often influenced by Silvan S. Tomkins’ work, is useful in its emphasis on
how emotions are not simply located in the individual, but move between
bodies.17 After all, the word ‘contagion’ derives from the Latin for ‘contact’.
In this model, it is the emotion itself that passes: I feel sad, because you feel
sad; I am ashamed by your shame, and so on. In suggesting that emotions
pass in this way, the model of ‘emotional contagion’ risks transforming
emotion into a property, as something that one has, and can then pass on, as
if what passes on is

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