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The Promise of Happiness


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Theoretical consideration of how affect--and particularly happiness--shapes social orientations, such as gender, race, and class.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: Why Happiness, Why Now? 1
1. Happy Objects 21
2. Feminist Killjoys 50
3. Unhappy Queers 88
4. Melancholic Migrants 121
5. Happy Futures 160
Conclusion: Happiness, Ethics, Possibility 199
Notes 225
References 283
Index 301

About the Author

Sara Ahmed is Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is the author of Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others, also published by Duke University Press; The Cultural Politics of Emotion; Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality; and Differences that Matter: Feminist Theory and Postmodernism.


"What could be more naturalized and less subject to ideological critique than happiness? How are we to get critical perspective on it? Through her readings of texts and films, Sara Ahmed shows how this might work. By revealing the complexity and ambivalence of happiness, she intervenes in several fields--including queer and feminist theory, affect studies, and critical race theory--in a genuinely new and exciting way."--Heather Love, author of Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History "At a time when happiness studies are all the rage and feminism is accused of destroying women's happiness, Sara Ahmed offers a bold critique of the consensus that happiness is an unconditional good. Her new book asks searching questions about the nature of the good life, making its case in a wonderfully pellucid prose. What a paradox that a defense of the killjoy should be such a pleasure to read! This timely, original, and intellectually expansive book is sure to trigger a great deal of debate."--Rita Felski, University of Virginia

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