Affect, State Theory, and the Politics of Confusion
This paper explores affective relations between the state and social life. Drawing upon Tomkins’s ‘many-handed’ approach to affect and Simondon’s and Deleuze’s vision of an ‘affectivo-emotive regime,’ I offer a non-unified picture of ‘affectiva-emotivity’ that helps account for the paradox of the state’s inexistence and its simultaneous ability to affect bodies. Where Foucault’s and Mitchell’s familiar ‘state effects’ govern populations and give the impression of unity to the state idea, ‘state affects,’ I argue, differentiate masses according to what Secor has called ‘unrecognizable conditions.’ Expressed in moments where such statist encounters are bungled, the resulting ‘politics of confusion’ describe the state not simply as a set of logic or intelligibilities, but as a series of problems. Drawing upon Spinoza’s conception of ‘inadequate ideas,’ the affectivity of state errancies, their affective uncertainties, and the possibilities for their undoing are illustrated throughout by a discussion of the policing strategies during the Spring 2011 Occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building.
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Sponsored by The Deleuze Interest Group (DIG), the Marxisms Group and the Department of American Culture.