VICKIE ZHANG


cultural geographer

affect, mobilities, work
negativity 
economic + affective transitions







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Bristol
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New paper — “What should we do with bad feelings? Negative affects, impotential responses”

Thomas Dekeyser, David Bissell and I have a new article out open access in Progress in Human Geography on the politics of ‘negative affects’. 

We explore the ethics of responding to bad feeling in human geography, identifying an ‘ethics of rehabilitation’ which recurs across the discipline, that seeks to repair bad feeling through attempts to work away negativity and activate latent potential.

Against this persistent desire to overcome negativity and seek potential, we ask why, and how, geographers might explicitly make space for impotentiality. We outline two forms of impotentiality — incapacities (when one is unable to act) and negative capacities (when one decides not to act) — and draw on these positions to put forward an ‘ethics of impotentiality’ that, we suggest, might sidestep some of the more troubling effects of the rehabilitative position, and acknowledge the validity not only of bad feelings, but also the impotence that one might experience in the face of those overwhelming feelings.

Despite the topic matter, writing with these with these two irrepressibly brilliant and kind people was only full of good feels, and I’m looking forward to working with them again. We would love to hear your thoughts on the article if you find time to read it.
12/2023



Citation: Dekeyser, T., Zhang, V., & Bissell, D. (2023). What should we do with bad feelings? Negative affects, impotential responses. Progress in Human Geography, doi.org/10.1177/03091325231213513