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Love, labour, lost: creative class mobility, stories of loss, negative affects

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Creative class workers are highly mobile, yet the struggles, disruptions and inequalities that emerge in their new, trans-local, experiential geographies are usually erased in the upbeat, Florida-inflected narrative on creative work and creative class mobility. This article aims to break open discussions of creative class mobility with the insertion of affect. It argues for the inclusion of personal, affective experiences to complicate the fluidity, the ease, the resolve that are usually assumed in the imaginary of being mobile. Furthermore, the article builds on the increasing volume of scholarship on affective labour – conceptualized as the affective dimensions of labour – but via a different route. I argue that any examination of affective labour may expand from the affect in labour, to how labour affects; from affective labour to labour affects. This inquiry brings to mobility studies the resonances between moving (geographically) and being moved (affectively), supplementing cultural studies’ critique of creative work with precarity of a different category, that of the affective. The empirical section presents the affective accounts of three re-located creative workers. They show us that mobility is never as frictionless as it sounds, and doing what people love may well come at the cost of losing those whom they love. I tease out three themes for further connections with affect: ethos and values, gender, and technology.

Keywords: China; Mobility; affect; creative class; loss; precarity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Publication date: November 2, 2019

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