Angharad Closs Stephens, National Affects: The Everyday Atmospheres of Being Political – Bloomsbury, September 2022
Identity is widely acknowledged to be a felt experience, yet questions of atmosphere, mood and public sentiments are rarely made central to understanding the global politics of nationalism. This book asks what difference it makes when we address national identity as principally an affective force? National Affects traces how ideas about ‘us and them’ take form in ordinary spaces, in ways that are both deeply felt and hardly noticeable, in studies of global events that range from the London 2012 Olympic Games to responses to acts of terror, the European refugee crisis and ‘Brexit’.
In this timely intervention, Angharad Closs Stephens addresses the affective dimensions of being together to open new angles in the study of nationalism and global politics. She asks how the nation is felt in everyday life, as well as differently experienced, and investigates different forms of enacting being together to generate new insights in the study of national identity. National Affects draws on academic theories in the study of Politics, International Relations and Human Geography, as well as stories, performance works and novels, to establish a new tone of critical enquiry. Informed by longstanding critical interrogations of the politics of ‘us and them’, this book argues that these ideas are not as stable as they are often made to seem.
Drawing on a combination of artistic and academic interventions, this book offers a refreshing approach to conceptualising the politics of nationalism, identity and citizenship. In its focus on everyday atmospheres, it identifies new registers for intervening politically. Overall, National Affects outlines other ways of imagining and practising being political together, beyond the exclusionary politics of nationalism.