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Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others

Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others

Paperback

By (author) Sara Ahmed

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  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 18mm | 318g
  • Publication date: 17 January 2007
  • Publication City/Country: North Carolina
  • ISBN 10: 0822339145
  • ISBN 13: 9780822339144
  • Sales rank: 52,708

Product description

In this groundbreaking work, Sara Ahmed demonstrates how queer studies can put phenomenology to productive use. Focusing on the "orientation" aspect of "sexual orientation" and the "orient" in "orientalism," Ahmed examines what it means for bodies to be situated in space and time. Bodies take shape as they move through the world directing themselves toward or away from objects and others. Being "orientated" means feeling at home, knowing where one stands, or having certain objects within reach. "Orientations" affect what is proximate to the body or what can be reached. A queer phenomenology, Ahmed contends, reveals how social relations are arranged spatially, how queerness disrupts and reorders these relations by not following the accepted paths, and how a politics of disorientation puts other objects within reach, those that might, at first glance, seem awry. Ahmed proposes that a queer phenomenology might investigate not only how the concept of orientation is informed by phenomenology but also the orientation of phenomenology itself. Thus she reflects on the significance of the objects that appear - and those that do not - as signs of orientation in classic phenomenological texts such as Husserl's Ideas. In developing a queer model of orientations, she combines readings of phenomenological texts - by Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Fanon - with insights drawn from queer studies, feminist theory, critical race theory, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. "Queer Phenomenology" points queer theory in bold new directions.

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Author information

Sara Ahmed is Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her books include "The Cultural Politics of Emotion"; "Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality"; and "Differences that Matter: Feminist Theory and Postmodernism."

Review quote

"[G]round shaking. The book is disorienting in a good way. It invites the reader to be shaken, disoriented, to question our selves and our position and it evokes the power and necessity of disorientation as a source of movement and challenge. Ahmed doesn't seem to insist that we deny the positions we currently occupy, or to move on, but to reorient ourselves. Like earthly tremors, queer phenomenology facilitates the formation of lines and fissures along the spaces of our existence, as events that open up new connections, rather than points in lines that bind us to existing structures and spaces in which living obliquely is made uncomfortable, if not impossible." - Margaret Mayhew, Cultural Studies Review "Ahmed's most valuable contribution in Queer Phenomenology is her reorienting of the language of queer theory. The phenomenological understanding of orientation and its attendant geometric metaphors usefully reframes queer discourse, showing disorientation as a moment not of desperation but of radical possibility, of getting it twisted in a productive and revolutionary way." - Zachary Lamm, GLQ "This is an original and refreshing use of phenomenological theory to address the kinds of questions--about orientations and about how bodies and objects become oriented through their interrelations--that help link it more directly to political and social questions--about gender, sexuality, and race, for example--that have tended to be treated as outside or beyond phenomenological frameworks. This extension and development of phenomenology is a major contribution."--Elizabeth Grosz, author of The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely "In this dazzling new book, Sara Ahmed has begun a much needed dialogue between queer studies and phenomenology. Focusing on the directionality, spatiality, and inclination of desires in time and space, Ahmed explains the straightness of heterosexuality and the digressions made by those queer desires that incline away from the norm, and, in her chapter on racialization, she puts the orient back into orientation. Ahmed's book has no telos, no moral purpose for queer life, but what it brings to the table instead is an original and inspiring meditation on the necessarily disorienting, disconcerting, and disjointed experience of queerness."--Judith Halberstam, author of In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives "Finally, a theorist who takes sexual 'orientation' at its word. In this moving meditation on directionality, Sara Ahmed takes phenomenology for a turn through queer theory, postcolonial studies, feminism, critical race theory, geometry, and labor politics. In the world Ahmed encourages us to reinhabit, as bodies come to matter, bodily action materializes space, children inherit proximities rather than attributes, privileged bodies sink into familiarity, and politics is at its best when it involves a measure of disorientation. Follow her 'lines' of reasoning and you'll never again reach for an explanation, a book, or a lover without wondering how your grasp extended so far in the first place."--Kath Weston, author of Gender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Age

Back cover copy

"This is an original and refreshing use of phenomenological theory to address the kinds of questions--about orientations and about how bodies and objects become oriented through their interrelations--that help link it more directly to political and social questions--about gender, sexuality, and race, for example--that have tended to be treated as outside or beyond phenomenological frameworks. This extension and development of phenomenology is a major contribution."--Elizabeth Grosz, author of "The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely"