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Free Content The functionality of affects: conceptualising far-right populist politics beyond negative emotions

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By focusing on negative affects, such as anger, fear and hate, a normative critique of affective politics tends to overlook the ambiguity and situated nature of affective politics. This paper suggests embracing the ambivalences that characterise the emotional dynamics in political arenas; therefore, it emphasises the functionality of affects. The study adopts a post-dualistic understanding of political affects based on the conceptual devices of Sara Ahmed and Kathleen Stewart to analyse the affective practices and performances of the German political party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). An ethnographic lens and analytical focus on the affective politics of far-right agents beyond negativity can permit more subtle nuances and highlight potentially overlooked facets of enactment and performance that have contributed to the successes of far-right political organisations in Europe and the US. The paper ultimately argues that the use of ‘ordinary’ affects produces legitimacy, renders far-right politics appealing and contributes to the normalisation of far-right discourse.
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Keywords: Alternative für Deutschland; affect theory; affects; ethnography; far-right politics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Leipzig University, Germany

Publication date: May 2020

This article was made available online on February 10, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "The functionality of affects: conceptualising far-right populist politics beyond negative emotions".

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

    The Journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, policy papers commissioned by organizations and institutions and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author(s). With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse publishes themed issues on topics as they emerge. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work.

    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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