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Professor Sara Ahmed

Staff details

PositionProfessor in Race and Cultural Studies
Email s.ahmed (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone+44 (0)20 7717 2964
Professor Sara Ahmed

I am the co-convenor of the MA in Gender Media and Culture and convenor of the Feminist Postgraduate Forum.  I am the Director of the Centre for Feminist Research.

My courses are:

  • Race, Empire and Nation
  • Gender, Affect and the Body

Areas of supervision

I would be interesting in supervising phd students in the following broadly defined areas:

  • Feminism
  • Queer Theory
  • Race and Postcolonial Theory

Research Interests

My research 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. I begin with the messiness of the experiential, the unfolding of bodies into worlds, and the drama of contingency, how we are touched by what comes near. My work explores how differences, otherness and strangeness become ‘properties’ of bodies and spaces over time. Differences that Matter (1998) analyses intersections between differences in the shaping of identities, challenging the reification of difference in some postmodern theory. Strange Encounters (2000) examines how others are racialised by being recognised as strangers, as ‘bodies out of place’. More specifically, the book explores 'stranger fetishism', how the figure of 'the stranger' acquires a life of its own by being cut off from histories of determination, however unfinished those histories may be. The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004) considers how emotions register the proximity of others. It describes emotions as ‘the flesh of time’ and explores how emotions are attributed to objects, such that objects become sticky, or full of affective value. Queer Phenomenology (2006), explores how orientations affect how bodies inhabit time and space, re-thinking the ‘orientation’ in ‘sexual orientation’ and the ‘orient’ in orientalism. I offer a philosophical and personal exploration of how bodies are orientated by ‘what’ they come into contact with (using the example of the philosopher and the table). The Promise of Happiness (2010) considers how we are directed toward certain objects by the promise of happiness, such that we 'happen' upon those things that are already attributed as happiness causes. In this book, I explore how the freedom to pursue 'whatever' makes us happy is directive: we are free to pursue this 'whatever' on condition that it causes happiness, which as a condition involves an implicit demand that we make certain choices. Drawing on feminist, queer and anti-racist 'unhappy archives,' as archives that are assembled out of the struggle against happiness, the book considers happiness by taking up those who enter its history as 'wretches', 'killjoys' and 'affect aliens.' It analyses how one history of happiness is the history of the removal of the hap from happiness, and calls not only for 'the freedom to be unhappy,' but for a politics that puts the 'hap' back into happiness. On Being Included (2012) examines the turn to diversity within institutional cultures, and explores race equality policies as 'non-performatives' that do not bring into effect that which they name. It discusses how those who describe the problem of racism are treated as if they are creating a problem, as threatening an institution's reputation for 'being diverse.' This book also reflects on a genre of argumentation we can call 'overing': how it is assumed that we are 'over' racism (and other relations of structural inequality) or that by getting over racism, racism will be over. It reflects on how diversity workers come up against 'a brick wall' in attempting to transform institutional cultures and calls for a politics that does not 'look over' what we cannot or do not 'get over.' Willful Subjects (2014) explores how willfulness is a a charge made by some against others. It shows how one history of will is a history of the requirement to eliminate willfulness from will. It explores how willfulness might be required to recover from the attempt as its elimination.

Current research:
 

  • I have begun a new research project on Utility: The Uses of Use. In this project I will not only track the history of the idea of use (across a range of domains including design and material culture, evolutionary theory, as well as political and ethical theory) but will reflect on how utility becomes a social as well as moral injunction. I am especially interested in the use of the assignment of uselessness (with particular reference to class and the social body).
  • I am writing a book Living a Feminist Life, which draws on everyday experiences of being a feminist, in particular experiences of being a feminist killjoy, as a way of doing feminist theory.  I hope to develop "sweaty concepts," by working on and through and with experiences that are trying or difficult. The book will focus on the importance of renewing feminism as a mode of critique, and as a way of challenging power (including through a willful citational practice). The book is organised as three sections: Becoming Feminist (Feminism is Sensational, On Being Directed, Willfulness and Feminist Subjectivity); Diversity Work (Trying to Transform, Being in Question, Brick Walls) and Living the Consequences (Fragile Connections, Feminist Snap, Lesbian Feminism) as well as an Introduction, Bringing 'Feminist Theory' Home, and two conclusions: A Killjoy Survival Kit and A Killjoy Manifesto.  I am working through some of this material on my feminist killjoy blog (http://feministkilljoys.com/).

Publications

Book

Willful Subjects
Ahmed, Sara. 2014. Willful Subjects. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0822357834

The Cultural Politics of Emotion
Ahmed, Sara. 2014. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press; 2nd Revised edition. ISBN 978-0748691135

On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life
Ahmed, Sara. 2012. On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. London: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822352211

Vithetens hegemoni
Ahmed, Sara. 2011. Vithetens hegemoni. Tankekraft Förlag. ISBN 978-9186273194

The Promise of Happiness
Ahmed, Sara. 2010. The Promise of Happiness. Durham, North Carolina, USA: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-822-34725-5

Differences that Matter: Feminist Theory and Postmodernism
Ahmed, Sara. 2010. Differences that Matter: Feminist Theory and Postmodernism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521597616

Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others
Ahmed, Sara. 2006. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822338611

The Cultural Politics of Emotion
Ahmed, Sara. 2004. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh University Press and New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780748618477

Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality (Transformations)
Ahmed, Sara. 2000. Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality (Transformations). London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415201858

Edited Book

Uprootings/Regroundings: Questions of Home and Migration
Castaneda, Claudia; Ahmed, Sara and Fortier, Anne-Marie, eds. 2004. Uprootings/Regroundings: Questions of Home and Migration. Oxford: Berg. ISBN 978-1859736241

Thinking Through the Skin (Transformations)
Ahmed, Sara and Stacey, Jackie, eds. 2001. Thinking Through the Skin (Transformations). London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415223560

Transformations: Thinking Through Feminism
Ahmed, Sara; Lury, Celia; McNeil, Maurenn; Kilby, Jane and Skeggs, Bev, eds. 2000. Transformations: Thinking Through Feminism. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415220675

Edited Journal

Doing Diversity Work’
Ahmed, Sara and Swan, Elaine, eds. 2006. Doing Diversity Work’.

‘Re-Imagining Communities’
Ahmed, Sara and Fortier, Anne-Marie, eds. 2003. ‘Re-Imagining Communities’.

Testimonial Cultures
Ahmed, Sara and Stacey, Jackie, eds. 2001. Testimonial Cultures.

Book Section

Embodying Diversity: Problems and Paradoxes for Black Feminists
Ahmed, Sara. 2012. Embodying Diversity: Problems and Paradoxes for Black Feminists. In: Yvette Taylor, ed. Educational Diversity: The Subject of Difference and Different Subjects. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 203-218. ISBN 978-0230293427

'Queer Feelings'
Ahmed, Sara. 2012. 'Queer Feelings'. In: Donald Hall and Annamarie Jagose, eds. The Routledge Queer Studies Reader. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415564113

'Sociable Happiness'
Ahmed, Sara. 2012. 'Sociable Happiness'. In: Dale Spencer; Kevin Walby and Alan Hunt, eds. Emotions Matter: A Relational Approach to Emotions. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1442612532

'Happy Futures, Perhaps'
Ahmed, Sara. 2011. 'Happy Futures, Perhaps'. In: E L McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen, eds. Queer Times, Queer Becomings. SUNY Press, pp. 159-182. ISBN 978-1438437729

‘"You End up Doing the Document Rather than Doing the Doing": Diversity. Race Equality and the Politics of Documentation’
Ahmed, Sara. 2011. ‘"You End up Doing the Document Rather than Doing the Doing": Diversity. Race Equality and the Politics of Documentation’. In: Lindsay Prior, ed. Using Documents and Records in Social Research. SAGE Publications Ltd; Four-Volume Set edition. ISBN 978-1849207331

Orientations Matter
Ahmed, Sara. 2010. Orientations Matter. In: Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, eds. New Materialism. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, pp. 234-257. ISBN 978-0-822-34772-9

'Happy Objects'
Ahmed, Sara. 2010. 'Happy Objects'. In: Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, eds. The Affect Theory Reader. Duke University Press, pp. 29-51. ISBN 978-0822347767

'Creating Disturbance: Feminism, Happiness and Affective Differences’
Ahmed, Sara. 2010. 'Creating Disturbance: Feminism, Happiness and Affective Differences’. In: Marianne Liljeström and Susanna Paasonen, eds. Working with Affect in Feminist Readings: Disturbing Differences. London: Routledge, pp. 31-44. ISBN 978-0415481397

'Commitment as a Non-Performative'
Ahmed, Sara. 2009. 'Commitment as a Non-Performative'. In: Begüm Özden Firat; Sarah De Mul and Sonja Van Wichelen, eds. Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Schol, pp. 23-44. ISBN 978-0230221956

'The Organisation of Hate’
Ahmed, Sara. 2009. 'The Organisation of Hate’. In: Jennifer Harding and Deidre Pribram, eds. Emotions: A Cultural Studies Reader. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415469302

'Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism'
Ahmed, Sara. 2007. 'Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism'. In: Damien W Riggs, ed. Taking Up the Challenge: Critical Race and Whiteness Studies in a Postcolonising Nation. Adelaide: Crawford House Publishers. ISBN 978-1863333122

‘The Skin of the Community: Affect and Boundary Formation'
Ahmed, Sara. 2005. ‘The Skin of the Community: Affect and Boundary Formation'. In: Tina Chanter and Ewa Plonowska Ziarek, eds. Revolt, Affect, Collectivity: The Unstable Boundaries Of Kristeva's Polis. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791465684

Feminist Futures
Ahmed, Sara. 2003. Feminist Futures. In: Mary Eagleton, ed. A Concise Companion to Feminist Theory. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 236-254. ISBN 978-0631224037

Communities that Feel: Intensity, Difference and Attachment'
Ahmed, Sara. 2002. Communities that Feel: Intensity, Difference and Attachment'. In: Enrique Larreta, ed. Identity and difference in the global era. Rio de Janerio: UNESCO, pp. 414-448. ISBN 9788572610247

Racialised Bodies
Ahmed, Sara. 2002. Racialised Bodies. In: Ellie Lee and Mary Evans, eds. Real Bodies: A Sociological Introduction. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 46-63. ISBN 978-0333947524

‘Introduction: Dermographies’
Ahmed, Sara and Stacey, Jackie. 2001. ‘Introduction: Dermographies’. In: Sara Ahmed and Jackie Stacey, eds. Thinking Through the Skin. London: Routledge, pp. 1-18. ISBN 978-0415223560

Communities that Feel: Intensity, Difference and Attachment
Ahmed, Sara. 2001. Communities that Feel: Intensity, Difference and Attachment. In: Kuoivunen and S Paasonen, eds. Affective Encounters. University of Turku/School of Arts, pp. 10-25.

Introduction: Thinking Through Feminism
Skeggs, Bev; Ahmed, Sara; Kilby, Jane; McNeil, Maureen and Lury, Celia. 2000. Introduction: Thinking Through Feminism. In: Sara Ahmed; Jane Kilby; Maureen McNeil; Celia Lury and Bev Skeggs, eds. Transformations: Thinking Through Feminism. London: Routledge, pp. 1-24. ISBN 978-0415220668

Embodying Strangers
Ahmed, Sara. 2000. Embodying Strangers. In: Avril Horner and Angela Keane, eds. Body Matters: Feminism, Textuality, Corporeality. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 85-97. ISBN 978-0719054693

An Impossible Global Justice? Deconstruction and Transnational Feminism
Ahmed, Sara. 2000. An Impossible Global Justice? Deconstruction and Transnational Feminism. In: J Richardson and R Sandland, eds. Feminist Perspectives on Law and Theory. London: Cavendish University Press, pp. 55-72.

Passing Through Hybridity
Ahmed, Sara. 1999. Passing Through Hybridity. In: Vikki Bell, ed. Performativity & Belonging. SAGE Publications, pp. 87-106. ISBN 978-0761965237

Animated Borders: Skin, Colour and Gender
Ahmed, Sara. 1998. Animated Borders: Skin, Colour and Gender. In: Margrit Shildrick and Janet Price, eds. Vital Signs: Feminist Reconfigurations of the Bio/logical Body. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 45-65. ISBN 978-0748609628

‘“It's a sun tan, isn't it?”: Auto-biography as an Identificatory Practice'
Ahmed, Sara. 1997. ‘“It's a sun tan, isn't it?”: Auto-biography as an Identificatory Practice'. In: Heidi Mirza, ed. Black British Feminism: A Reader. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 153-167. ISBN 978-0415152891

Identifications, Gender and Racial Difference: Moving Beyond a Psychoanalytical Account of Subjectivity
Ahmed, Sara. 1996. Identifications, Gender and Racial Difference: Moving Beyond a Psychoanalytical Account of Subjectivity. In: Renuka Kumar, ed. Representations of Gender, Democracy and Identity Politics in Relation. Sri Satguru Publications, pp. 288-302. ISBN 978-8170305033

Women in the Orient
Ahmed, Sara. 1996. Women in the Orient. In: Tess Cosslett; Alison Easton and Penny Summerfield, eds. Women, Power And Resistance: An Introduction to Women's Studies. Milton Keynes: Open University Press, pp. 136-152. ISBN 978-0335193905

Article

Not in the Mood
Ahmed, Sara. 2014. Not in the Mood. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, Politics, 82, pp. 13-28. ISSN 0950-2378

'Mixed Orientations
Ahmed, Sara. 2014. 'Mixed Orientations. Subjectivities, 7, pp. 92-109.

Whitenes and the General Will: Diversity Work as Willful Work
Ahmed, Sara. 2012. Whitenes and the General Will: Diversity Work as Willful Work. philoSOPHIA, 2(1), pp. 1-20. ISSN 2155-0891

A Willfulness Archive
Ahmed, Sara. 2012. A Willfulness Archive. Theory & Event, 15(3),

Problematic Proximities: Or Why Critiques of Gay Imperialism Matter
Ahmed, Sara. 2011. Problematic Proximities: Or Why Critiques of Gay Imperialism Matter. Feminist Legal Studies, 19(2), pp. 119-132. ISSN 0966-3622

Willful Parts: Problem Character or the Problem of Characters
Ahmed, Sara. 2011. Willful Parts: Problem Character or the Problem of Characters. New Literary History, 42(2), pp. 231-253. ISSN 0028-6087

'Feminist Killjoys (and Other Willful Subjects)'
Ahmed, Sara. 2010. 'Feminist Killjoys (and Other Willful Subjects)'. Scholar and Feminist Online,

Killing Joy: Feminism and the History of Happiness
Ahmed, Sara. 2010. Killing Joy: Feminism and the History of Happiness. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 35(3), pp. 571-592. ISSN 0097-9740

Happiness and Queer Politics
Ahmed, Sara. 2009. Happiness and Queer Politics. World Picture 3, 3,

Embodying Diversity: Problems and Paradoxes for Black feminists
Ahmed, Sara. 2009. Embodying Diversity: Problems and Paradoxes for Black feminists. Race Ethnicity and Education., 12(1), pp. 41-52. ISSN 1361-3324

Multiculturalism and the Promise of Happiness
Ahmed, Sara. 2008. Multiculturalism and the Promise of Happiness. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, Politics, 63, pp. 121-137. ISSN 0950

The Happiness Turn
Ahmed, Sara. 2008. The Happiness Turn. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, Politics, 63, pp. 7-14. ISSN 0950-2378

The Politics of Good Feeling
Ahmed, Sara. 2008. The Politics of Good Feeling. Australasian Journal of Critical Race and Whiteness Studies, 4(1),

Sociable Happiness
Ahmed, Sara. 2008. Sociable Happiness. Emotion, Space and Society, 1, pp. 10-13. ISSN 1755-4586

Open Forum Imaginary Prohibitions: Some Preliminary Remarks on the Founding Gestures of the `New Materialism'
Ahmed, Sara. 2008. Open Forum Imaginary Prohibitions: Some Preliminary Remarks on the Founding Gestures of the `New Materialism'. European Journal of Women's Studies, 15(1), pp. 23-39. ISSN 1350-5068

You end up doing the document rather than doing the doing: Diversity, race equality and the politics of documentation
Ahmed, Sara. 2007. You end up doing the document rather than doing the doing: Diversity, race equality and the politics of documentation. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(4), pp. 590-609. ISSN 01419870

A Phenomenology of Whiteness
Ahmed, Sara. 2007. A Phenomenology of Whiteness. Feminist Theory, 8(2), pp. 149-168. ISSN 1464-7001

The Language of Diversity
Ahmed, Sara. 2007. The Language of Diversity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(2), pp. 235-256. ISSN 0141-9870

The Nonperformativity of Antiracism
Ahmed, Sara. 2006. The Nonperformativity of Antiracism. Merideans: Journal of Women, Race and Culture, 7(1), pp. 104-126.

Doing Diversity Work in Higher Education in Australia
Ahmed, Sara. 2006. Doing Diversity Work in Higher Education in Australia. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 38(6), pp. 745-768. ISSN 0013-1857

Orientations: Towards a Queer Phenomenology
Ahmed, Sara. 2006. Orientations: Towards a Queer Phenomenology. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 12(4), pp. 543-574. ISSN 1064-2684

The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism
Ahmed, Sara. 2005. The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism. borderlands, 5(3),

The Politics of Bad Feeling
Ahmed, Sara. 2005. The Politics of Bad Feeling. Australasian Journal of Critical Race and Whiteness Studies, 1, pp. 72-85.

Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism
Ahmed, Sara. 2004. Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism. Borderlands, 3(2),

On Collective Feelings, or the Impressions Left by Others
Ahmed, Sara. 2004. On Collective Feelings, or the Impressions Left by Others. Theory, Culture and Society, 21(2), pp. 25-42. ISSN 0263-2764

Affective Economies
Ahmed, Sara. 2004. Affective Economies. Social Text, 22(2), pp. 117-139. ISSN 0164-2472

The politics of fear in the making of worlds
Ahmed, Sara. 2003. The politics of fear in the making of worlds. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(3), pp. 377-398. ISSN 0951-8398

In the Name of Love
Ahmed, Sara. 2003. In the Name of Love. Borderlands, 2(3), pp. 1-41.

This Other and Other Others
Ahmed, Sara. 2002. This Other and Other Others. Economy and Society, 31(4), pp. 558-572. ISSN 03085147

The Contingency of Pain
Ahmed, Sara. 2002. The Contingency of Pain. Parallax, 8(1), pp. 17-34.

Whose Counting?
Ahmed, Sara. 2000. Whose Counting? Feminist Theory, 1(1), pp. 97-103. ISSN 1464-7001

Who Knows? Knowing Strangers and Strangerness
Ahmed, Sara. 2000. Who Knows? Knowing Strangers and Strangerness. Australian Feminist Studies, 15(31), pp. 49-68. ISSN 0816-4649

Phantasies of Becoming (the Other)
Ahmed, Sara. 1999. Phantasies of Becoming (the Other). European Journal of Cultural Studies, 2(1), pp. 47-63. ISSN 1367-5494

`She'll Wake Up One of These Days and Find She's Turned into a Nigger' Passing through Hybridity
Ahmed, Sara. 1999. `She'll Wake Up One of These Days and Find She's Turned into a Nigger' Passing through Hybridity. Theory, Culture and Society, 16(2), pp. 87-106. ISSN 0263-2764

‘Home and Away: Narratives of Migration and Estrangement’
Ahmed, Sara. 1999. ‘Home and Away: Narratives of Migration and Estrangement’. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2(3), pp. 329-347. ISSN 1367-8779

Tanning the Body: Skin, Colour and Gender
Ahmed, Sara. 1998. Tanning the Body: Skin, Colour and Gender. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, Politics, 34, pp. 25-40. ISSN 0950-2378

Intimate Touches: Proximity and Distance in International Feminist Dialogues
Ahmed, Sara. 1997. Intimate Touches: Proximity and Distance in International Feminist Dialogues. Oxford Literary Review, 19(1-2), pp. 19-46. ISSN 0305-1498

Beyond Humanism and Postmodernism: Theorizing a Feminist Practice
Ahmed, Sara. 1996. Beyond Humanism and Postmodernism: Theorizing a Feminist Practice. Hypatia: Journal of Feminist Philosophy, 11(2), pp. 71-93.

Deconstruction and Law's Other: Towards a Feminist Theory of Embodied Legal Rights
Ahmed, Sara. 1995. Deconstruction and Law's Other: Towards a Feminist Theory of Embodied Legal Rights. social and legal studies, 4(1), pp. 55-74.

Theorising Sexual Identification: Exploring the Limits of Psychoanalytical and Postmodern Models
Ahmed, Sara. 1995. Theorising Sexual Identification: Exploring the Limits of Psychoanalytical and Postmodern Models. Australian Feminist Studies, 10(22), pp. 9-29.

Conference or Workshop Item

Conversation on Black British Feminisms
Ahmed, Sara and Mirza, Heidi. 2014. 'Conversation on Black British Feminisms'. In: Conversation on Black British Feminisms. George Wood Theatre, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom.

Debilities: Sensing Bodies and Worlds
Puar, Jasbir; Gunaratnam, Yasmin; Hickey-Moody, Anna Catherine and Ahmed, Sara. 2014. 'Debilities: Sensing Bodies and Worlds'. In: Debilities: Sensing Bodies and Worlds. Goldsmiths, Universirty of London, United Kingdom.

Screening and Panel Discussion on the work of Angela Davis, Free Angela and Other Political Prisoners
Ahmed, Sara; Anim-Addo, Joan; Bernard, Claudia A.; Mirza, Heidi; Puwar, Nirmal and Thobani, Sunera. 2013. 'Screening and Panel Discussion on the work of Angela Davis, Free Angela and Other Political Prisoners'. In: Centre for Feminist Research Screening and Panel Discussion. Goldsmiths, Universirty of London, United Kingdom.

Feminism@ Goldsmiths
Fenton, Natalie; Ahmed, Sara; Anim-Addo, Joan; Blackman, Lisa; Jefferies, Janis K.; Puwar, Nirmal and Reckitt, Helena. 2013. 'Feminism@ Goldsmiths'. In: Feminism@ Goldsmiths. Goldsmiths, Universirty of London, United Kingdom.