Sara Ahmed, "Killing Joy: Feminism and the History of Happiness"

In collaboration with McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women (MCRTW), Media@McGill is proud to host the international speaker Sara Ahmed who will be presenting a public talk entitled, Killing Joy: Feminism and the History of Happiness.

This paper examines the history of happiness through a feminist lens. The paper proceeds by suspending belief that happiness is a good thing, and explores feminist histories as struggles against happiness. Happiness is how social norms become social goods. Reflecting on feminist critiques of the happy housewife, the paper suggests we can revitalize feminist languages of raising consciousness and false consciousness, thinking of feminist consciousness as a reorientation to the causes of unhappiness. Consciousness of unhappiness is not necessarily a form of self-consciousness but a world consciousness in which unhappiness can disturb the happiness of the familiar. The paper reflects specifically on Black feminist consciousness as a consciousness of what does not get noticed when happiness provides a horizon of experience. It calls for a feminist ethics and politics of killing joy.

Professor in Race and Cultural Studies, Ahmed’s work is concerned with how bodies and worlds take shape; and how power is secured and challenged in everyday life worlds, as well as institutional cultures.

Ahmed will give the public lecture on 20 March, 2009, at 6pm, Faculty Club. 

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