Skip to main content

Politics Of Feeling

Gerardo Montes de Oca Valadez
Research Grantee Academy of Fine Arts Vienna | Dissertation Completion Fellowship 2019|20


Politics of Feeling is a transdisciplinary research that approaches affects as a site of resistance and as a form of politics in order to explore the qualities and struggles of social movements in Mexico today. Much of my interest and focus grew out of my experience in activism and as a psychotherapist and social psychologist in Mexico. By elaborating a historical genealogy of the politics of affects in Mexico that feed both social polarization and resistance, I want to demonstrate, describe and explain the key role that politics of affectivity have played historically both in power operations of domination, on the one hand, and resistance, on the other. The accumulation of historical and on-going social trauma and injustice in Mexico has lead to a sustained increment of new social movements with new logics of membership and participation against corruption, impunity, crime and State violence. Simultaneously, it has reactivated and made more visible long accumulated and never fulfilled demands of indigenous and campesino movements overlapping with recent resistance towards neoliberal policies and reforms. These new formations reactivate collective memory and produce, at times very vexed, new insubordination criteria, counter discourses and subaltern consciousness.

This transdisciplinary research situates itself in the intersection of decolonial studies, critical theory, art theory and history, aesthetics, affective theory, psychology and politics. Approaching affects as a site of resistance and as a form of politics poses methodological challenges due not only to semantic limitations to address affects and emotions, but also to their multiple historical, psychosocial, political, economic, embodied and relational entanglements.

The inquiry will start in Vienna, continuing with a one year doctoral stay at Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo – Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, and finalize in Vienna. A historic research will seek to find significant threads of subaltern practices and movements related to politics of affects, from the colony until today–complemented with on-line media documentation. This will be analyzed through the articulation of decolonial and affect theory. In-depth interviews with different activists, and field work in Mexico will be conducted to document, describe and discuss the politics of affect in social movements. An archival and field research in Mexico will allow me to study, describe and analyze the ways in which aesthetics and politics of affectivity relate to each other both in social movements and in artistic practices. This project takes the fields of aesthetics and contemporary art as sites of resistance, emancipation and production of critical knowledge that enable us to transcend epistemic limitations of conventional theoretical and academic inquiry. By doing so, I wish to further explore the methodological possibilities between ethnographic methodology and aesthetics.