Emotions and affect in recent human geography

Pile, Steve (2010). Emotions and affect in recent human geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35(1) pp. 5–20.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2009.00368.x


This paper seeks to examine both how emotions have been explored in emotional geography and also how affect has been understood in affectual geography. By tracing out the conceptual influences underlying emotional and affectual geography, I seek to understand both the similarities and differences between their approaches. I identify three key areas of agreement: a relational ontology that privileges fluidity; a privileging of proximity and intimacy in their accounts; and a favouring of ethnographic methods. Even so, there is a fundamental disagreement, concerning the relationship – or non-relationship – between emotions and affect. Yet, this split raises awkward questions for both approaches, about how emotions and affect are to be understood and also about their geographies. As importantly, mapping the agreements and disagreements within emotional and affectual geography helps with an exploration of the political implications of this work. I draw upon psychoanalytic geography to suggest ways of addressing certain snags in both emotional and affectual geography.

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