Making affect empirical

Year: 2021

Author: Hattam, Robert, Michalinos, Zembylas

Type of paper: Symposium

In this paper we want to outline how we have been designing an affective ethnography methodology for examining culturally responsive schools, past being trapped in the terrain of thinking. Drawing on the affective turn in education (Dernikos et al 2020) this project calls attention to what affect does in schools that are working to become more culturally responsive. Here, affect can be understood as discursive and material practices that constitute communal arrangements, capable of disrupting normative concepts and offering spaces for emergent thinking. School structures and cultures can be understood as ‘a medium that conditions what is felt and what can become the focused, intentional object of emotion[s]’ (Anderson 2014: 110). Or alternatively, school cultures provide a ‘structure of feeling’ that mediates how capacities to affect and be affected emerge whilst also providing a collective mood that is shared between participants (Zembylas 2002). We draw on theories of affect in education to challenge conventional oppositions between the individual and the social, highlighting the complex relations among power, emotion, affect, and subjectivity (Zembylas 2020a; 2020b). This scholarship enables researchers to examine new questions: How is affect operating in schools? How do system and school policies constitute the affective encounters between teachers and students? How can CRP approaches transform the affective environment of classrooms and the school? More importantly, this approach enables researchers to map transformations of affect in the pedagogical encounters as teachers adopt CRP approaches; how leaders and teachers affect what happens in schools and classrooms and how they are in turn affected; examine critical incidents as emotional encounters, when affect/emotions are most evidently entangled with broader structures such as dominant norms; and examine how participants’ emotional reactions are constituted, mobilized and/or transformed.