Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect by Mel Y. Chen

By Mel Y. Chen

In Animacies, Mel Y. Chen attracts on contemporary debates approximately sexuality, race, and impact to check how subject that's thought of insensate, motionless, or deathly animates cultural lives. towards that finish, Chen investigates the blurry department among the dwelling and the useless, or that that is past the human or animal. in the box of linguistics, animacy has been defined variously as a top quality of enterprise, information, mobility, sentience, or liveness. Chen turns to cognitive linguistics to emphasize how language habitually differentiates the animate and the inanimate. increasing this build, Chen argues that animacy undergirds a lot that's urgent and certainly risky in modern tradition, from animal rights debates to biosecurity concerns.

Chen's ebook is the 1st to convey the idea that of animacy including queer of colour scholarship, serious animal stories, and incapacity concept. via analyses of dehumanizing insults, the meanings of queerness, animal protagonists in fresh Asian/American paintings and picture, the lead in toys panic in 2007, and the social lives of environmental sickness, Animacies illuminates a hierarchical politics infused by way of race, sexuality, and talent. during this groundbreaking ebook, Chen rethinks the standards governing company and receptivity, well-being and toxicity, productiveness and stillness—and demonstrates how consciousness to the affective cost of subject demanding situations common sense orderings of the world.

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Additional resources for Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect

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For Douglas, this new mass culture was an emotive, feminized force that overwhelmed high art, strong national identity, and vital religious experience. 2 While several critics have made a historical connection between nineteenth-century spiritual practices such as mesmerism and Spiritualism and contemporary New Age practices such as channeling and aromatherapy, they have not recognized how women’s participation in religious practices has been stigmatized both in the past and present. 3 Instead, critics unwittingly duplicate Douglas’s argument and contend that once again the sentimental, the feminine, and the spiritual (rather than the religious) transform a masculine public political culture for the worse.

By examining critics of New Age culture, such as Harold Bloom, Andrew Ross, Elaine Showalter, David Brooks, Robert Bellah, and Mel D. Faber, this chapter uncovers just how women’s participation and influence in New Age culture are understood. 6 This “reaction formation” conceptualizes New Age culture as a negative feminizing influence and perpetuates egregious gender, cultural, and national ideologies, even while it misses exactly how women engage in New Age beliefs and practices. By looking at the construction of certain female types who present some of the most disarming aspects of New Age culture—from “Sheila” who names her religion after herself, to the female bourgeois bohemian or “Bobo” who buys her spirituality in the marketplace, to Carol White in Todd Haynes’s film Safe who contracts environmental illness (a New Age disease) that makes her allergic to the twentieth century—we discover just what it is these women articulate that critics find so alarming, titillating, and indicative of cultural decline.

However, New Age culture, with its “sacralisation of the self,” urges women to see themselves as a holy source of wisdom rather than look to an external authority (Aupers and Houtman 205). A recent psychological study on women and individualism discovered that increases on the “individualism index” in “self focus (narcissism)” and “ego strength . . may have helped women respond to radical changes in women’s roles during the late 1960s and 1970s” (Roberts and Helson 641). In his interviews with New Agers, Jon Bloch found that “locating the self as final authority” is a way to both establish a “countercultural” spirituality and to “protest rigid social control” (33).

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