On Not Becoming a National Part:
Willfulness as Political Art

Sara Ahmed

Talk, October 27, 2011, 7.30pm, ICI-Berlin

This lecture rethinks national citizenship as “technology of the will.” And it reflects on willfulness as political art – a political art which deals in the field of the ongoing difficulty of speaking about racism, as well as queer of colour activism. According to national citizenship the “would be” citizen must be willing to will what the nation wills; to make their will conditional on the national will. More specifically the paper reflects on the national will as the general will which is defined against the particular will, or the will of the part. The general will creates parts, and demands that those who are part not only participate but are willing to reproduce the whole. I suggest that when parts are willing, they recede from view. The parts that are not willing to reproduce the whole are attributed as willful – and become the potential agents of the art of willfulness.

Sara Ahmed is Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. Recent book publications include: The Promise of Happiness (2010), Queer Phenomenology. Orientations, Objects, and Others (2006), The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004). Soon will be published: On Being Included. Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life.

The talk is organized in cooperation with and financially suported by
Professor Beate Binder (Institute for European Ethnology und Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin).


Part of The Subtle Racializations of Sexuality (lecture series 2011/12)