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the promise of unhappiness Arrow vol 11 no 1 contents
About borderlands VOLUME 11 NUMBER 1, 2012


The Freedom to Be Unhappy

Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness, Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.

Julian Gill-Peterson
American Studies, Rutgers University, Newark

Sara Ahmed’s The Promise of Happiness (2010) critically assesses the cultural labour of happiness by relocating it in its proximity to unhappiness. She extends her phenomenological examination of objects and emotions to map the normative pull of happiness as a duty, focusing on various ‘affect aliens’ who are considered profoundly unhappy because distant from normative formations of family, gender, sexuality and nation. Her creative exploration of the ‘hap’ in ‘happiness’ builds toward a consideration of the potentiality of a deployment of both happy and unhappy feelings as a relation to futurity. In Ahmed’s formulation, an expanded field of political emotion would include a right to be unhappy, one brought to bear on the regulatory modes of happiness’ promise in contemporary cultural formations.

The full article is available as a PDF document: click here.

© borderlands ejournal 2012



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ISSN 1447-0810