The Politics of Feeling Out

One feminist practice that is central to both my research and my teaching is the emphasis on what I call feeling out.I understand feeling out not only to mean trying out new approaches, methodologies, and strategies, but also to recognize that reciprocal processes are part of feeling out. What I mean by this is that we are always affecting and being affected—by other subjects and objects. Inspired by Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (2006) and The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004), I am committed to paying attention to how I inhabit the world and to how “emotions show us how power shapes the very surface of bodies as well as worlds” (Ahmed Cultural Politics 12). Thus, I am attuned to paying close attention to my positionality in the world and what kinds of affective responses emerge from the force fields and vectors that are created through stasis and shifts in orientation. And while it is often easier to register what is nearest to us, I also attempt to focus on who/what is “less proximate” (Phenomenology 3). As such, I strive to be aware of how I situate myself, how I am situated, and what impact my orientedness toward and away from others has on them (and in turn myself). In sum, I aim to reach out even to what seems out of reach and, in so doing, remain open to the possibility of affecting and being affected differently than to what I am accustomed as I am feeling and feeling it out.

—Simone Pfleger, Washington University in St. Louis/University of Alberta

Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. 2004. Routledge, 2012.

—. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Duke UP, 2006.