Read abstracts from our published papers and see where we have delivered keynote addresses, conference presentations and lectures.
Wetherell, M. (2016). Feeling the Nation: Developing a Practice Approach to Affect and Emotion. Day Seminar on Affect and Emotion, College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, 25th October, Christchurch.
McCreanor, T. (2014) New light in dark places/Fallen heroes in friendly soil: Pattern and variation in affective-discursive assemblages of ANZAC commemorations. Keynote address, Massey University Psychology Research Day, 5th December, Wellington.
Wetherell, M. (2014). The Turn to Affect. Keynote Lecture – Taking ‘Turns’: Material, Affective and Sensory ‘Turns’ in the Academy. British Academy and University of Manchester Day Conference, Manchester Art Gallery, UK 3rd July.
Wetherell, M. (2014). The ‘Turn to Affect’ in Social Research – Towards a Practice Approach. Keynote Address – Association of Critical Heritage Studies Second Biannual Conference, Canberra, Australia, 2-4th December.
Wetherell, M. (2013). Emotion, Power and Privilege: An Argument for Affective Practice. Keynote address New Zealand Psychological Society Annual Conference, Auckland, 9th September.
Wetherell, M. (2013). The ‘Turn to Affect’ in Social Research: A Critique and an Argument for Affective Practice. Key Note Address- The Fifth Women in Psychology Trans-Tasman Conference, Vaughan Park, Auckland, 27th September.
Wetherell, M. (2012). Analysing Emotion, Power and Privilege: An Argument for Affective Practice. Key Note Address – The Gender Studies Conference, Faye Gale Centre, University of Adelaide, Australia, 5th December.
Imagining an Emotional Nation: The Print Media and Anzac Day Commemorations in Aotearoa New Zealand (2016).
This article explores affect, discourse and emotion in national life. Drawing on recent thinking on discourse and affect, alongside previous work on nation and communities of practice, I focus on the print media’s use of Anzac Day in Aotearoa, New Zealand as a site through which settler identity and cultural hegemony are reproduced. One hegemonic interpretive repertoire is observed throughout, that Anzac Day is a sacred day of respectful remembrance. Within this frame, a series of associated affective-discursive positions are deployed covering issues that range from inclusion and exclusion, to conformity and dissent. I argue that this repertoire and its associated positions constitute citizens engaging with the day as a homogeneous group of national subjects, bound together as a particular kind of affected community. This imagined community and the affective practices attributed to it, however, largely ignore the bicultural makeup of Aotearoa, New Zealand, narrowing down the diverse range of potential emotional positions to a just a few. Popular journalism fails readers and limits debate though its thin portrayals of community, legitimate affect and engaged citizenship. National life is impoverished when print media lack the cultural competence necessary to effectively engage in broader debates and political discourse.
Settling Space and Covering the Nation: Some Conceptual Considerations in Analysing Affect and Discourse (2015)
This article explores how affect and discourse intertwine. We analyse a corpus of newspaper editorials and comment pieces from 2013 to 2014 concerning Aotearoa New Zealand's national day investigating how affective-discursive practices are mobilised to ‘cover the nation’ and ‘settle space’. We identify pervasive formulations of ‘bitter Māori’ and ‘indifferent Kiwis’ and the canon of affective-discursive repertoires and subject positions routinely set up as part of continuing white settler (Pākehā) cultural projects. A second objective is to contribute to the development of theory and method in studies of affect. We argue against non-representational perspectives and for a practice viewpoint that can work with entanglements of semiosis and embodied affect. Concepts from social psychological studies of discourse are applied in preference to ‘structures of feeling’, ‘affect economies’, ‘emoscapes’ and ‘emotion styles’.
‘Hostility won’t deter me, says PM”: The print media, the production of affect and Waitangi Day. (2014)
This paper explores affect, discourse and emotion in national life. We focus on the print media’s use of Waitangi Day as an affective-discursive distribution channel maintaining and reinforcing the hegemony of settler culture. Applying new thinking around affect, we consider how the cultural production of emotion in print media privileges settler identity, whilst simultaneously devaluing indigenous struggle. One hegemonic interpretive repertoire is discussed; that ‘Waitangi Day is a day of conflict.’ Two subordinate repertoires are juxtaposed against this: that it should be ‘a day of celebration’ and that it should be ‘a day of conversation.’ We argue that these repertoires and their associated affective-discursive positions encourage readers to move into episodes of pejorative affect directed towards Māori ‘ruining the day.’ Productive engagement with bi-culturalism requires a broader and deeper range of affective-discursive resources. Popular journalism fails its readers and limits debate through its narrow modelling of the emotional experiences Waitangi Day might evoke.
Tears, Bubbles and Failing Affect – New Approaches for the Analysis of Affective-Discursive Practices: A Commentary on ‘Researching the Psychosocial’. (2014)
This commentary welcomes the broadening of methods and theories in psychosocial studies evident in this special issue, “Researching the Psychosocial.” Three features are highlighted: the shift to synchronous investigation from the diachronic analysis of cultural sense-making, the focus on the intertwining of affect and discourse, and the opening of new routes to exploring participants’ investments and deep attachments. These new ways of working are briefly contrasted with the turn to affect in cultural studies, traditional psychobiological approaches, fine-grain discursive psychology, and psychoanalytic psychosocial research.
Trends in the Turn to Affect: A Social Psychological Critique. (2014)
This article explores the psychological logics underpinning key perspectives in the ‘turn to affect’. Research on affect raises questions about the categorization of affective states, affective meaning-making, and the processes involved in the transmission of affect. I argue that current approaches risk depopulating affecting scenes, mystifying affective contagion, and authorizing questionable psychobiological arguments. I engage with the work of Sedgwick and Frank, Thrift, and Ahmed to explore these points and suggest that the concept of affective practice offers a more promising social psychological grounding. Notions of affective practice are more commensurate with trends in contemporary psychobiology, explain the limits on affective contagion, and emphasize relationality and negotiation, attentive to the flow of affecting episodes. A practice approach positions affect as a dynamic process, emergent from a polyphony of intersections and feedbacks, working across body states, registrations and categorizations, entangled with cultural meaning-making, and integrated with material and natural processes, social situations and social relationships.
Affect and Banal Nationalism: A Practical Dialogic Approach to Emotion. (2014)
“Without words there can be no guilt. Without words there could, in a literal sense, be no love.” (Billig, 1999, p. 188)
On the 25th of April in Australia, in New Zealand, and in some Pacific Islands there is a public holiday to mark Anzac Day. Across the region, from Perth, to Dunedin, to Alofi in Niue, people gather for the dawn services often held at the local war memorials. Anzac Day was first initiated to remember the Australian and New Zealand troops who died at Gallipoli in the First World War, and the commemorations now extend to all military losses. The rituals vary little. Participants can expect to hear a lone bugler play ‘The Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’, to bow their heads for two minutes silence, and to be invited to sing the national anthems of both Australia and New Zealand. On fine days, dawn adds to the spectacle, as the sun rises, silhouetting the obelisk shaped memorials and the lone bugler. Commemorations begun in darkness on empty stomachs usually end in sunlight - often concluded with breakfast at the local café where the sense of duty well done might be intensified by a shot of alcohol in the coffee.
Anzac Day commemorations are, very obviously, a classic example of the ‘banal nationalism’ identified and studied by Michael Billig (1995). Billig argued that social research focused just on the exotic and the extraordinary aspects of nationalism ignored the importance of the everyday ‘flagging’ of nation. His concern instead was with the mundane practices sustaining and naturalizing the ideological habits of national fixation. These practices, he suggested, were especially prevalent in established nations. Like other ‘special’ national days, Anzac Day commemorations are towards the ‘hotter end’ of banal nationalism. The dawn services are more explicit, vivid and evocative than, for example, the New Zealand flag flying from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, seen every day by thousands of motorists. Anzac commemorative events reflexively and deliberately try to ignite the “mysticism of people and place” (Billig, 1995, p. 94) so central to evocations of national identity. But, these are routine rituals nonetheless.
In this chapter in honour of Mick Billig’s contribution to social research, I want to focus on the various and contested affects of banal nationalism and consider how best to conceptualize these. This might seem a perverse way of celebrating Billig’s work. Emotion is a currently fashionable topic for sure, and there is a substantial ‘turn to affect’ (Clough with Halley, 2007) sweeping the social sciences. But, this new ‘turn’ is frequently presented as a move beyond the study of the topics Mick Billig made his own - discourse, representation, rhetoric, ideology and the activities of arguing, puzzling, and thinking (Billig, 1987; 1991; 1995; 1999). Especially in cultural geography (Anderson, 2006; McCormack, 2003; Thrift, 2008), but also in cultural studies (Brennan, 2004), in politics (Protevi, 2009), in psychosocial research (Baraitser and Frosh, 2007), and in critical psychology (Blackman and Cromby, 2007), research on affect is often presented as a reaction against discourse studies. It is seen as a new focus on a core aspect ignored and neglected by previous decades of social researchers.
Affect and Discourse – What’s the Problem? From Affect as Excess to Affective/Discursive Practice (2013)
The recent ‘turn to affect’ in social and cultural research has been built on the notion of affect as a kind of excess. Affect is contrasted with the discursive and the cognitive, and distinguished from ‘domesticated’ emotion. The focus is on the presumed direct hit of events on bodies and on what is sensed rather than known. This formulation in combination with the need for new methods has disconnected discourse studies from research on affect. In common with other recent critics, I argue that the formulation of affect as an excess is unsustainable. I focus here, however, on the methodological consequences. The objective of affect research is to produce textured, lively analyses of multiple modes of engagement and to understand the working of power through patterns of assemblage. Intriguingly, fine-grain studies of discursive practice might realize these aims more effectively than some new, ‘non-representational’ methodological approaches. I contrast one example of non-representational empirical investigation with an example of discursive research on normative episodic sequences. My general aim is to build a more productive dialogue between rich traditions in discourse studies and new lines of research on affect and emotion.
Feeling Rules, Atmospheres and Affective Practice: Some Reflections on the Analysis of Emotional Episodes (2013)
One of the intriguing features of affect and emotion is that it can provide spectacular demonstrations of the limits of human agency. Affect can arrive ‘unbidden’, to use psychologist Paul Ekman’s (1994) term. We simply find ourselves ‘in a state’ (Baraitser & Frosh, 2007; also Probyn, 2005), taken over by grief, anxiety, rage or euphoria. Or perhaps we discover we are infused by some turbulence of body/mind that as yet has no shape, but which is intensely diverting nonetheless. The neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio (1999: 49), has argued that emotion could be as ‘uncontrollable as a sneeze’. The imminent and inconvenient arrival of strong affect, such as floods of tears, or the rise of panic, might be registered, but dodging or weaving is in vain. Distracting ruses fail, and affect itself has become the active agent.
Feeling and spirit: developing an indigenous wairua approach to research
Wairua, a Maori (indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand) concept, somewhat restrictively translated as spirit or spirituality, resonates with many indigenous peoples globally. While spirit is recognised as an important human dimension, the denigration of non-western spiritual understandings means that indigenous peoples often choose to remain silent. Transferring these concerns to research approaches, we edit our voices, with a view to what we think will count as knowledge and what we choose to share with academic audiences. This article discusses the challenges we face when we enter into conversations about wairua and how this might be approached in research. With reference to emerging social science innovations in affect and emotion, the article draws on audio visual recordings of people’s experiences of significant national days in Aotearoa New Zealand. Issues of analysis and representation are explored, along with the potential of these methods to explicate feelings, emotions and spirit.
Doing affect around national days: Mundane/banal practice or the call of ‘another space’?
The intense choreography of a nations’ identity is often exhibited through national days. In Aotearoa, New Zealand, national events such as Waitangi Day (6 February) and Anzac Day (25 April) provide affective public spaces that engage identity, belonging and inclusion while evoking dissent, reverence, unity and division. In this chapter, we analyse the choreography of affect and discourse related to Waitangi Day through media, observational video and focus group data. We explore affective-discursive positions related to Billig’s notion of banal nationalism and expand on this through analysis of feelings, emotion, spirituality and the Māori concept wairua. A social practice lens is used to study ways in which such affective labour contributes to a colonialist everyday nationalism. Findings offer important windows on how nationhood might be critiqued, challenged and diversified to more adequately represent the ongoing dynamics and tensions between Māori and Pākehā.
Muriwai, E. (2016). Privilege and denial of the nation’s foundation. Presented at Māori Association of Social Science Conference Nui Te Kōrero: Rewriting National Narratives, Victoria University, Wellington.
Moewaka Barnes, H., Moewaka Barnes, A., Gunn, T., Muriwai, E. & Le Grice, J. A wairua approach to research. Presented at Māori Association of Social Science Conference Nui Te Kōrero: Rewriting National Narratives, Victoria University, Wellington.
McConville, A (2016). “The thing is, Maori don’t have that much to celebrate” Cultural relations, processes of change and building banal activism around New Zealand’s National Day. Paper presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, Portland Oregon.
McConville, A (2016). Media, Affect, and National Days in New Zealand. Paper presented at The 45th Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, Portland Oregon, 2016.
McConville, A. (2015). The Print Media, the Production of Affect and National Days in New Zealand. Paper presented at the Affect Project Conference, Winnipeg, Canada.
Moewaka Barnes, H., Moewaka Barnes, A., McCreanor, T., Le Grice, J., Gunn, T., McConville, A., Wetherell, M., & Muriwai, E. (2015). Affect Wairua and National Days. Seminar at History of Emotions Conference, Stout Centre, Wellington.
Moewaka Barnes, A. (2015). Presentation, Native Voices Centre, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.
McConville, A (2014). 'Hostility won't deter me, says PM': affect in the print media's production of The [Kiwi] emotional experience of Waitangi Day. ’ Presented at the Social Movements, Resistance and Social Change in Aotearoa New Zealand Workshop, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 2014.
Moewaka Barnes, H (2014) Panel presentation, Critical Psychology Hui. 21 – 22 Oct 2014, Centre for Psychology, Massey University, Auckland.
McConville, A (2013). Bodytalk: Affect in Media Appraisals of Waitangi Day. Presented at the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (SAANZ) Annual Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 2013.
Moewaka Barnes, H. (2013) Invited speaker Waitangi Day 2013: family fun or national tensions? Manawa Whenua Conference, Waikato.
Wetherell, M. (2013) Affect and Emotion. Lecture presented to the Psychology Department, Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand, 9th August.
Wetherell, M. (2012) Analysing Emotion, Power and Privilege: An Argument for Affective Practice. Lecture presented to the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, New Zealand, November 14th.
We have delivered Keynote addresses about the project all around the world.
McConville, A., McCreanor, T. Wetherell, M., and Moewaka Barnes, H. (2016) Imagining an Emotional Nation: The Print Media and Anzac Day Commemorations in Aotearoa New Zealand. Media, Culture and Society. 39(1), 94-110.
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Wetherell, M. McCreanor, T., McConville, A., Moewaka Barnes, H. and Le Grice, J. (2015) Settling Space and Covering the Nation: Some Conceptual Considerations in Analysing Affect and Discourse. Emotion, Space and Society, 16, 56-64.
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McConville, A., Wetherell, M., McCreanor, T. & Moewaka Barnes, H. (2014) ‘Hostility won’t deter me, says PM”: The print media, the production of affect and Waitangi Day. Sites: new series. 11(2), 1-18.
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Wetherell, M. (2015) Tears, Bubbles and Failing Affect – New Approaches for the Analysis of Affective-Discursive Practices: A Commentary on ‘Researching the Psychosocial’. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12 (1), 83-90.
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Wetherell, M. (2014) Trends in the Turn to Affect: A Social Psychological Critique. Body and Society, 21 (2), 139-166.
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Wetherell, M. (2014) Affect and Banal Nationalism: A Practical Dialogic Approach to Emotion. In C. Antaki and S. Condor (eds.) Rhetoric, Ideology and Social Psychology: Essays in Honour of Michael Billig. London: Routledge.
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Wetherell, M. (2013) Affect and Discourse – What’s the Problem? From Affect as Excess to Affective/Discursive Practice. Subjectivity, 6 (4), 349-368.
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Wetherell, M. (2013) Feeling Rules, Atmospheres and Affective Practice: Some Reflections on the Analysis of Emotional Episodes. In C. Maxwell and P. Aggleton (eds.) Privilege, Agency and Affect. Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan.
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Moewaka Barnes, H., Raina Gunn, T., Moewaka Barnes, A., Muriwai, E., Wetherell, M. and McCreanor, T. (forthcoming), 'Feeling and spirit: developing an indigenous wairua approach to research', Qualitative Research, special issue: Democratising Qualitative Research Methods: Approaches and Practices (guest editors: T. Brannelly and R. Edwards).
The full text is in press.
McCreanor, T., Muriwai, E., Wetherell, M., Moewaka Barnes, H., & Moewaka Barnes, A. (in press). Doing affect around national days: Mundane/banal practice or the call of ‘another space’?
The full text is in press.
We have presented at a variety of conferences around the world. See where we are presenting next in the upcoming events section.