Conclusion: The Politics of Affect

For human geography, and for our roles as researchers, thinking with and using the concept of affect plugs us into the qualitative means and strategies we have for investigating the everyday worlds in which we live. Affect based research thus operates a strong political gesture in directing attention to the affective affinities produced among forms of life where we can think of Jane Bennett's – and in geography Jamie Lorimer's charisma based – notion of nonhuman entanglements; or to affect based accounts of modes of living, for example, that of homosexuality in Sedgwick's work, best accounted for in geography by Jason Lim; or to therapeutic practices as outlined by Jen Lea; or of the material and historical power geometries of affect commented on by Divya Tolia Kelly and the Materialist ontologies of race argued for in Arun Saldanha's work. All of which moves us further toward communities of understanding that are not only produced but also acknowledged as having been there already. As such, research approaches are transformed and social normatives are stretched, exceeded, overcome, and replaced.

As the debate between affect and emotion shows, the ability to construct enduring and determinable political environments is an open and hotly debated question, and thus a burgeoning research frontier. In particular, we can see this in very everyday terms when identifying affect with particular ecologies that afford specific affectual practices. Affect therefore tasks human geographers to think of the very specific renditions of the material effect of affect. The point is to understand that different institutional, visceral, and ecological situations access the performative implications of affect in different ways: thus, for example, think of the affective difference present in (1) designed environments for work (be that medical and counseling spaces, offices, shopping foyers, or army training grounds); (2) our own body capacities (be they differently sexed, ethnically marked, or physically able); (3) ecological assemblages mediated by technology and information (in the political mobilization of fear in times of terror or scenario planning in preparation of the unforeseen); and (4) human nature interfaces (be they the domestication of animals, the cyborg folding of flesh and technology, or the environmental impact of the manmade on equilibrium states). The sum effect is to sharpen us toward thinking of the different technological and visceral ways in which affect is achieved and is constitutive of new worlds for living in, and that the intensification of affect in thought and practice, where affect literally breeds affect, leads us to map anew quite literally the human of which geographers write.