The Evolution of Affect Theory: The Humanities, the Sciences, and the Study of Power

Donovan Schaefer


Cambridge University Press

Across the humanities, a set of interrelated concepts - excess, becoming, the event - have gained purchase as analytical tools for thinking about power. Some versions of affect theory rely on Gilles Deleuze's concept of "becoming," proposing that affect is best understood as a field of dynamic novelty. Reconsidering affect theory's relationship with life sciences, Schaefer argues that this procedure fails as a register of the analytics of power. By way of a case study, this work concludes with a return to the work of Saba Mahmood, in particular her 2005 study of the women's mosque movement in Cairo, Politics of Piety.