Book Chapter Details
Mandatory Fields
Breda Gray
Sexed Sentiments: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender and Emotion
Empathy, Emotion and Feminist Solidarities
Optional Fields
emotion, empathy, feminist politics, solidarity

This chapter is concerned with identifying an ethical emotional grammar in the forging of feminist solidarities. While acknowledging the potential for the modern emotion of empathy to work in patronising and appropriative ways, the aim is to recuperate empathy's more progressive, ethical and transformative moments. This discussion is located in the contemporary context of global capitalism which is identified in some accounts with postemotionalism, social numbness, disconnection and the failure of empathy. Noting that the workings of empathy have always been haunted by its potential failure, it is argued that such precariousness can keep responsibility, difference and critical reflexivity at the heart of feminist empathic identification. In this view, empathy can bring emotion, ethics and politics together to facilitate contextually sensitive, contingent and, hopefully, politically effective feminist solidarities. Thus understood, empathy creates the effects of certain boundaries but also enables solidaristic connections across those boundaries. It is in the encounter itself; the connection, or contact zone, that progressive empathic solidarities are forged.

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