By Carolyn Pedwell (auth.)
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Extra resources for Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy
She clarifies, however, that her claim is not ‘that they constitute a world-homogenizing system whose forces are played out to the same effect, or affect, everywhere. 37 In common with other feminist, postcolonial and queer theorists of transnational politics, these authors are all interested in the ways in which ‘transnational processes are inherently gendered, racialized and sexualised’, and in how ‘the borders they erase or erect affect different groups differently’ (Marciniak, Imre and O’Healy, 2007: 4).
Following Berlant, I understand empathy as an affective relation linked to power and privilege as well as the ambivalent promise of unsettlement and change. As such, my approach extends the important work of other feminist theorists who have explored the relational nature of empathy and linked emotions. Lynne Henderson, for example, has described empathy as ‘the foundational phenomenon for intersubjectivity, which is not absorption by the other, but rather simply the relationship of self to other, individual to community’ (1987: 1584).
Empathy provides a pertinent entry point to interrogate these transnational dynamics because, of all the emotions, it the one most frequently conceptualised as an affective bridge between social and cultural differences and an emotional means of achieving social transformation on an international scale. 34 Under late capitalism, characterised by ‘the logics of finance capital, flexible accumulation, and post Fordist international division of labor’, we have witnessed intensified flows of capital, goods, media, labour and knowledge across geo-political borders and boundaries (Lionnet and Shih, 2005: 5).