Sara Ahmed: A Return to Emotions

Bontu Lucie Guschke, Jannick Friis Christensen, Thomas Burø

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Sara Ahmed’s work on affect and emotion is gaining growing attention from organization scholars. This chapter considers some of Ahmed’s main concepts as analytical tools for engaging with affect and emotion in organization studies. Looking backward as well as forward, it discusses the theoretical influences that have inspired her work on affect and asks what Ahmed’s conceptual work allows us to do within organization studies. The chapter concludes with an invitation, or demand even, to question our own orientations, attunements, and affective commitments as scholars and members of organizations, namely academic institutions. Two main points are put forth: First, the authors highlight Ahmed’s contribution in the fields of feminist, anti-racist, and queer studies to argue that her scholarship links normativity and emotion, which makes it possible to investigate affect in relation to organizational norms and power structures. Second, her work is discussed as a (re)turn to emotion rather than part of an affective turn, critically emphasizing a potential implication of the affective turn, namely that it creates a distinction that privileges affect at the expense of emotion. To assume their separation, and then claim novelty in a turn toward affect, would imply a problematic mind-body dichotomy, which Ahmed’s work avoids by understanding affect and emotion as mutually implicated. The chapter accordingly highlights Ahmed’s focus on how emotions circulate socially: what they do rather than what they are.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAffect in Organization and Management
EditorsCarolyn Hunter, Nina Kivinen
Number of pages17
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9781032023199, 9781032023205
ISBN (Electronic)9781003182887
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesRoutledge Focus on Women Writers in Organization Studies

Bibliographical note

Published online: 5 September 2022.

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