Layers of affect: the liminal sites of method

Aishling McMorrow

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Recent moves to (re)incorporate the registers of affect and emotion into the discipline of International Relations have been spearheaded within the study of security. Across airports, borders, and urban spaces, we have seen the lines of control by which certain affects and emotions are orientated and manipulated, in order to (dis)aggregate and discipline bodies. However, while there is a concerted effort to imagine and foreground theoretically how bodies have the dual capacity to affect and to be affected, thus, playing back into forms of control, a clear delineation on method is, so far, absent. In other words, how exactly can we juggle uncovering the ways in which affect and emotion are always simultaneously obedient and deviant? Therefore, this article will set out a methodological framework that enables research to stay attuned to, and cognisant of, the competing layers of these registers that both play into and rupture mechanisms of control in security. I argue that imagining fieldwork and research on affect and emotion as liminal sites, through three layers, allows for the translation of the control of and by affect, while simultaneously embracing the liveliness, disruption, and tensions that affect and emotion create.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-33
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Studies on Security
Issue number1
Early online date27 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


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