Feel the Trouble(s) Around You: Sensing the Everyday Politics of Conflict through Anna Burns’ Milkman

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Abstract

In this paper I complicate the boundaries of fieldwork by grappling with my academic and personal investment in the histories of conflict in Northern Ireland. Counter to rationalist assumptions that envision fieldwork as an accumulative acquiring of knowingness, it is often through affective mechanisms that we begin to sense the constellations of longings, emotions and lived experiences that endure through conflict. Aesthetic narratives such as novels are a powerful medium that can activate such sensibility. Thinking with feminist and other critical ir interventions, I reflect on sensing the unbearable lightness of the Troubles through a reading of the novel Milkman by Anna Burns. I propose reading as a fieldwork practice that, by dabbling with affect and disrupting neat boundaries between the field, the data and the analysis, can disclose alternative ways of knowing, allowing us to (momentarily) become more fluent in the everyday affective grammar of/in conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
JournalPolitical Anthropological Research on International Social Sciences (PARISS)
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2022

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