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    Outlaw emotions, post-heroic creativities and theory change in the discipline of international relations

    Soreanu, Raluca (2010) Outlaw emotions, post-heroic creativities and theory change in the discipline of international relations. In: ‘Global Café’ series, The Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University, 3 May 2010, New York, US. (Unpublished)

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    The talk introduces a theory of outlaw emotions and makes a case for placing the category of emotion at the heart of our pursuits in understanding social process. The theory of outlaw emotions is articulated in the space between interaction ritual theories (taking insights from and offering a critique to the sociology of Randall Collins) and psychoanalytic theories (drawing on the elaborations on the “radical imagination” authored by Cornelius Castoriadis). In this space, actors are relational, or multi-relational, rather then phalo-centric; they become entangled with one another and they sustain their synchronic entanglements with meaningful objects on the basis of their mutual resonance of inner conflicts, and, as a result, they create more meaning. At the level of social institutions, there is an accumulation of the emotional energies flared up in local synchronic entanglements; social structures are made up through a complex aggregation of emotional energies. To ground this discussion on social action, I introduce concepts such as:outlaw emotions, emotional work, social resonance, social rhythm, and social synchronicity. In other words, I formulate an interaction ritual theory where the unconscious is not effaced from our stories of the social, and where actors are not without a psyche. I also offer a critique of the missing unconscious in the sociologies of Randall Collins and Pierre Bourdieu, and I show how this crucial absence impacts their conception of creativity. Thus, the theory of outlaw emotions challenges the impoverishing distinction between self and society, which it displaces by the more productive terms of psychic order and social order. To anchor these theoretical notions, I draw on a series of forty biographic interviews with scholars in the academic field of International Relations, around the issue of “the constructivist turn”, which has been recognised in the past two decades as a significant theoretical event in the field, bringing discussions on norms and identities to a largely rationalist field. While giving up the language of a “turn” (and other markers which black box change in intellectual fields and refer to it in terms akin to “paradigm shift”), I show how emotions such as rage, anger, embarrassment, and humiliation have been at the root of different forms of creativity, and of different forms of subversion, which in turn have allowed new theoretical developments in the field. While in these conversations my interest was in “outlaw emotions” and their transformative work in relation to the localities of the actors, the interviews also document important synchronic entanglements – involving people, objects, and ideas, and having the capacity to generate new outcomes, both theoretically and institutionally. To trace these synchronic entanglements, I look at the qualities of my actors’ relations to time, to space, and to boundaries; at their modes of seeking coalitions with and separation from each other and from objects; and at their ways of inhabiting the intergenerational relationship. Finally, I give some elements for understanding the emotional organisation of institutions and fields of knowledge, and, more particularly, the emotional organisation of the discipline of International Relations.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Raluca Soreanu
    Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2015 11:10
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:18


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