Sympathy and Its Discontents: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Unfeeling

Discontent, dissatisfied, disaffected. In this talk Xine shares insights into the writing of her award-winning Disaffected and gestures towards new projects. In Disaffected Xine Yao explores the racial and sexual politics of unfeeling—affects that are not recognized as feeling—as a means of survival and refusal in nineteenth-century America. She positions unfeeling beyond sentimentalism’s paradigm of universal feeling. By theorizing feeling otherwise as an antisocial affect, form of dissent, and mode of care, Yao suggests that unfeeling can serve as a contemporary political strategy for people of colour to survive in the face of continuing racism and white fragility.