Going to Bed White and Waking Up Arab: On Xenophobia, Affect Theories of Laughter, and the Social Contagion of the Comic Stage

Critical Philosophy of Race 2 (1):84-105 (2014)
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Abstract
Like lynching and other mass hysterias, xenophobia exemplifies a contagious, collective wave of energy and hedonic quality that can point toward a troubling unpredictability at the core of political and social systems. While earlier studies of mass hysteria and popular discourse assume that cooler heads (aka rational individuals with their logic) could and should regain control over those emotions that are deemed irrational, and that boundaries are assumed healthy only when intact, affect studies pose individuals as nodes of biosocial networks larger than themselves. Thus rather than suggesting that the individual can only prevent societal harm by gaining command and patrolling the borders of an autonomous self, we embrace the notion that affects can exert a positive and transformative force on a social reality that is resistant to top-down policy intervention and any straightforward moral or logical plea.
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