affective dispositions of engagement

These dispositions manifest in complex and unpredictable ways, at different points in time, depending on contextual factors. Being able to identify the disposition(s) we bring to a specific conversation and its implications can open different possibilities of engagement.

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Skattebol conceptualises affect as a capacity and as a “tangible, embodied force that operates between people” (78). She claims that affect is different from emotion as “it operates at a physiological level, that is – beyond consciousness” (ibid). Skattebol emphasises the patterned nature of affect that happens via repeated (and socially-historically situated) collective mediations that converge in individual affective biographies (Skattebol, 2009; Nathanson, 1992). She argues that:


…[a]ffect is organised at an intra-subjective level of the body but also organises intersubjective exchanges. Affects are generative and contagious; they are innate activators themselves, for example, shame can produce a blush – the red heat that in turn produces more shame. […] Differentiated affects operate as feedback to the self and play a major role in the meaning made of experience. Furthermore when people transmit affects – fear, distress, anger, shame and so on – the affective force is unruly and unpredictable because other people’s affective responses and patterns transform the original affect.[…] Affective patterns become habituated through life experiences but can also change through new inter-subjective experiences. (78)

We are collaboratively developing performative embodied exercises that can help us become more intimately familiar with the architectures of affect that pierce through our bodies. More soon!

Skattebol, J. (2010). Affect: a tool to support pedagogical change. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 31(1):75 — 91

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