Call for Papers - Special Issue of ARIEL: Postcolonial Affect


Call for Papers—Special Issue of ARIEL: Postcolonial Affect

The intersection of postcolonial literary studies and affect studies challenges assumptions in each field. On the one hand, postcolonial literature belies the supposed universalisms of Eurocentric affect studies, as they are articulated within the North American and European academy (cf. Sneja Gunew, “Translating Postcolonial Affect” [2020], in Affect and Literature). Reckoning with postcolonial affect means asking what is translatable and untranslatable about affective experiences across languages and cultures. It requires assessing the ethics of representing subaltern feeling and articulating frameworks for theorizing affects outside of U.S. and European philosophic and psychoanalytic traditions. Insofar as postcolonial affect means the racialization of affect, its examination operates alongside recent work in Black Studies that challenges racist epistemic assumptions about who is imagined to be the feeling subject in western thought (cf. Tyrone S. Palmer, “‘What Feels More than Feeling?’: Theorizing the Unthinkability of Black Affect” [2017], Critical Ethnic Studies). Bringing postcolonial literature to bear on affect studies creates opportunities to both critique the parochialism of the field and to multiply methodologies for understanding what affect is and does.

On the other hand, the breadth of affect studies as it has developed in the thirty years after the “affective turn” raises questions about the affects, feelings, and emotions that have been prominently attached to the category of the postcolonial. Postcolonial literary studies have often adhered to “negative” affects, such as trauma, shame, and disillusionment. Where they have taken up emotions such as happiness and sympathy, they have often been critical of how these feelings maintain an imperial status quo (cf. Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness [2010]). The recent exuberant diffusion of affect theory, however, into the fields of posthumanism, sensory studies, and environmental studies, among others, invites charting postcolonial affect anew, such that it is located not only in the relation of colonizer/colonized, but across human and nonhuman subjects, shifting diasporas, neocolonial markets, and postcolonial environments. Following Neetu Khanna’s recent provocations in The Visceral Logics of Decolonization (2020), postcolonial literary studies might then consider the contours of “revolutionary feeling.” It might ask: how does literature render the preconscious intensities of liberatory postcolonial worlds in the present and for the future? How are these narrativized as complex constellations of emotions and feelings?

This special issue of ARIEL explores postcolonial affect as a generative framework not only for analyzing the intimate workings of empire and the relational inequalities of global capitalism, but also for understanding how subjects survive and defy subjugation to imagine collective thriving. We invite essays on postcolonial literature that center the affective experiences and environments of peoples who are frequently marginalized within Euro-American affect studies, and/or that expand the scope of affect studies by showing how analyses of affect must account for histories of (neo)colonialism. Questions we ask include: What are the methodological possibilities and challenges of bridging postcolonial and affect studies? How might postcolonial affect disrupt nationalist and neoliberal discourses of progress and development that perpetuate exploitation? How does postcolonial affect enable critique of the lived immiserations of empire? What are the affects of postcolonial futurity?

Please submit abstracts of 300-500 words by August 1, 2021 to the guest editors, Katherine Hallemeier ( and Jeremy De Chavez ( The guest editors will review abstracts and invite full essays (6,000-9,000 words) for submission by January 15, 2022.