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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Ben Anderson

Anderson, B. Becoming and being hopeful: towards a theory of affect. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 2006;24:733-752.

Author(s) from Durham


In this paper I describe how hope takes place, in order to outline an explicit theory of the more-than-rational or less-than rational in the context of the recent attunement to issues of the affectual and emotional in social and cultural geography. In the first part of the paper I outline an expansion of the more-than-rational or less-than-rational into three modalities: affect, feeling, and emotion. From this basis I question an assumption in the literature on affect that the emergence and movement of affect enable the multiplication of forms of life because they takes place ‘in excess’. In the second part of the paper I exemplify an alternative, more melancholy account through a description of the emergence of hope and hopefulness in two cases in which recorded music is used by individuals to ‘feel better’. Emergent from disruptions in various forms of diminishment, hopefulness moves bodies into contact with an ‘outside’. Becoming and being hopeful raise a set of issues for a theory of affect because of, rather than despite, the sense of tragedy that is intimate with how hope heralds the affective and emotive as always ‘not-yet become’. The conclusion, therefore, draws the two parts of the paper together by reflecting on the implications of thinking from hope for both a theory of affect and an affective cultural politics.


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