Call for Papers | The Politics of Emotions

An interdisciplinary two-day conference to foster a sharing of and engagement with contemporary research on the emotional content of social life, cultural politics, and political practice in India. 

Submit abstract by 31 Dec 2023

Emotions play a pivotal role in the public life of communities. Anger, outrage, fear, care, shame, love, grief, demands for dignity and fight against humiliation shape lived experience, animate collectives, motivate movements, and vitally connect politics and aesthetics, the mind and the body. 

As such, they grate against the abstract axiomatics of political and economic rationality. They disrupt social and cultural regularities, often violently, while bringing into interplay a panoply of passions, performativities, platforms, media, as well as the ideological and repressive apparatuses of the state. 

As Sara Ahmed elegantly explains, emotions do things” and we need to understand how they work to then mediate the relationship between the psychical and the social, between the individual and the collective (2004).

Taking inspiration from Ahmed’s call and responding to India’s political present, to the emotive intensities that inform its dynamics, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, is organising this conference.

Emotion’ has had a rich discursive life in India. Though rooted in colonial hierarchies, the idea that Indians are an emotional’ people permeates the public sphere and its social mediations today. Some uphold this description as a positive attribute of civilisational difference, especially vis a vis the rational’ West; others see it as a thorny problem for a diverse, post-colonial democracy such as ours, something that must be overcome for Indians to become a truly modern citizenry. 

Academic discourse, too, sometimes participates in such volatile simplifications; but, by and large, it has studied the ground between. Indeed, both before and after the so-called affective turn,” the study of emotions has been a rich vein of inquiry in several areas of the humanities and the social sciences in India — often short-circuiting traditional disciplinary boundaries. 

Resisting the emotional/​rational binary and studying a gamut of empirical contexts — from communal riots and transnational friendships to fan cultures and the experience of disability, this highly inter-disciplinary scholarship has highlighted how emotions mediate the complex structures and interplay of power in Indian society. 

However, one of the casualties of such inter-disciplinary vitality, ironically, has been the institutionally diffuse production and circulation of the scholarship on emotions in the Indian academic context. 

Possible themes include (but are not limited to): 

  • Gender, Sexuality and Emotions 
  • Caste and the Politics of Emotions 
  • Religious Publics and Emotions 
  • Disability and Emotions 
  • Law and Emotions 
  • Psy’ Disciplines and Emotions 
  • Politics of Care 
  • Electoral Politics and Emotions 
  • Emotions and/​in Media

The Conference proposes to bring together a diverse group of scholars who study the political, conceived capaciously, under the conceptual aspect of emotion and cognate concepts like sentiment, mood, and affect.

Over its two-day duration, the conference aims to foster a sharing of and engagement with contemporary research on the emotional content of social life, cultural politics, and political practice in India. 

We cordially invite abstracts of papers from both young and established scholars working in this field. 

Please send a 250-word abstract to socsci.​sas@​apu.​edu.​in

The submission deadline is 31 December 2023.