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Social Studies of Politics: State Affect? 2

Sat, September 1, 4:00 to 5:30pm, ICC, E5.1

Session Submission Type: Open Panel


Whether in post-industrialized settings of the Global North or the rapidly industrializing contexts of the Global South, a distinctive feature of our contemporary world is the reconfigured but nonetheless pervasive presence of states. The state remains a key mode of societal organisation, despite scholars announcing its “death” or decrying that it is “hollowed-out” as states purportedly contribute to their own undoing in the context of ever-advancing globalization and the contruction and transformation of inter- and transnational modes of governing. Research in Science and Technology Studies (STS) tends to privilege technoscientific advances organized through deliberate (nation) state intercession, either through co-shaping of science and society (Jasanoff) or through intervention into the material environment and through the establishment of infrastructure (e.g., Carroll, 2009; Mukerji, 1997). An under-explored though essential facet for understanding contemporary politics is affect. How is state affect marshaled in the face of pressures to retreat and to expand? The care and attention that laypeople and officials direct at operations of the state and bureaucratic labor offer a means of locating the sustenance of the state in terms of affect. Bringing this conceptual terrain into prolonged conversation with Science and Technology Studies (STS) affords scholars the opportunity to examine how the ‘sensibility’ of states is produced even in transnational configurations and how a range of affective dimensions (aesthetic, aural, optic, and even olfactory) come to be entangled with diverse regulatory and administrative processes in the ‘care’ of national, international and transnational government work.

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