From the threats posed by austerity and the fears around global migration to the unsettled notion of resistance, our political world is permeated with anxieties. But what does this mean for our everyday lived political experience? Do governments provoke or encourage a sense of anxiety as a form of control and power? How do citizens react to, comply with, or resist, this sense of anxiety?
This book interrogates the different faces of anxiety and provides a systematic engagement with its different manifestations. It uses different disciplinary approaches and methodologies to study political and social phenomena in order to paint a picture of the impact of anxiety, and how it governs and mobilises individuals. The key strength of these contributions comes from their theoretically informed analysis of empirical problems. Moving beyond the concept of the ‘risk society’ and the recurrence of cyclical capitalist crises, this book challenges the notion of the status quo to consider urges and desires for political change. By highlighting that anxiety is different from fear, the book examines new implications for the study of political events.
1. Introduction: Politics of Anxiety, Emmy Eklundh, Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet and Andreja Zevnik / Part I: Politicizing Anxiety / 2. For want of not: Lacan’s conception of anxiety, J. Peter Burgess / 3. When does Repression become Political?, Henrique Tavares Furtado / Part II: Security: Control / 4. Anxiety: Trauma: Resilience, Mark Neocleous / 5. The New Age of Suspicion, Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet and Fabienne Brion / 6. The Effects of Uncertainty: Anxiety and Crisis Preparedness, Carsten Baran / Part III: Resistance: Reclaiming / 7. The Politics of Anxiety and the Rise of Far-Right Parties in Europe, Norma Rossi / 8. Indignation as resistance: Beyond the Anxiety of No Future Alternatives, Paolo Cossarini / 9. Neurotic Neoliberalism and the Economics of Anxiety, Japhy Wilson / Part IV: Epilogue / 10. Sovereign Anxiety and Baroque Politics, Michael Dillon
Anxiety is arguably more fundamental to the human condition than any other emotion or affect. Yet we know comparatively little about its specificities. This book theorizes anxiety beyond the limits of 20th century psychoanalysis, and offers a novel approach to the politics of anxiety, demonstrating not just the dangers but potentials of anxiety for political subjects of the present.
From media discourses about economic crises to insecurity traumas about terrorism, or from exacerbated fears of political extremism in Western democracies to daily suspicions or neuroses about “others” who do not look or act “like us,” our contemporary condition is often seen or felt by many to be stress-inducing, highly uncertain, and indeed anxiety-creating. This important volume tackles the political dimensions and implications of today’s “logic of anxiety.” Focusing not just on what, transnationally, this politics of anxiety looks like but also on what it does and produces—and on what subjects and subjectivities it both enables and undermines—Politics of Anxiety deftly combines rich theoretical analyses with prescient empirical studies. The result is a text that is sure to be an essential reading for students and scholars eager to understand and challenge contemporary practices, policies, and ideologies of fear, terror, and anxiety.
This much needed collection will put the politics of anxiety (and the anxiety of politics) squarely on the critical agenda. The editors are to be congratulated for curating such a stimulating set of interventions drawing out the distinctive immanent logics of anxiety in contraposition to the transcendent and linear logics of calculative risk. The collection bristles with an excitement and positivity which is as necessary as it is refreshing.
This book is a must read. While there are many accounts that have the ambition to explain today’s political uncertainty, the authors of this book convincingly show that anxiety is the main driving force. Economic inequalities may play an important role but the power of affect and emotions is even more important.
This insightful volume analyses the politics of anxiety and its connection to security and resistance. By focusing on what different logics of anxiety can tell us about the present and the opening up of new political spaces, this excellent book grasps wholeheartedly the changing nature of anxiety and subjectivity in an era riddled with uncertainty. A true joy to read!
The contributors to this volume convincingly argue that we are firmly in an age of anxiety in which security threats are not specified and fear is of the unknown. Yet, while anxiety—as an affect and practice of security—enables the articulation of a never-ending and trauma-inflected list of threats that rob us of a temporality of the future, it also creates openings for a politics of resistance. This volume capably pinpoints how anxiety is central for understanding security practices in a variety of events and by drawing on several theorists often overlooked in the field of International Relations. Most importantly, it contributes to the difficult work of rechanneling anxiety toward an imaginary of change in the face of practices of security and sovereignty that fail to justify themselves or allay our fears.
As a volume, it is well-anchored in its engagement with Lacan, seeking specifically to rethink existing discussions around the topic of anxiety.
Emmy Eklundh is a Lecturer in Spanish and International Politics at King’s College London. She researches social movements and populist parties in Europe and contemporary challenges to democratic theory.
Andreja Zevnik is a Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Manchester. She publishes widely on topics of political philosophy, psychoanalysis, political struggles of marginalised groups (especially in the US), and the subject of resistance.
Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet is researcher at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL, Belgium) and associate researcher at the Centre for Research on Conflict Liberty and Security (CCLS, Paris - France).