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Willful Subjects


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii Introduction: A Willfulness Archive 1 1. Willing Subjects 23 2. The Good Will 59 3. The General Will 97 4. Willfulness as a Style of Politics 133 Conclusion: A Call to Arms 173 Notes 205 References 257 Index 277

About the Author

Sara Ahmed is Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is the author of On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life; The Promise of Happiness; and Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others, all also published by Duke University Press; as well as The Cultural Politics of Emotion; Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality; and Differences That Matter: Feminist Theory and Postmodernism.


"Willful Subjects is beautifully conceived and expertly conducted, sentence by sentence, suggestion by suggestion. Paradoxically, Sara Ahmed's willfulness promises happiness for her readers. Exquisite formulations engage our contemplation and render real intellectual enjoyment. Followers of Ahmed, of which there are many, will not be disappointed. This new instance of razor-sharp thinking powerfully builds upon The Promise of Happiness to look at something usefully slicing through contentment: the scissoring relations between the will and willfulness. More than cutting-edge, this is cutting thought." "Sara Ahmed's Willful Subjects explores the relationship between willfulness and dissent that challenges the notions of coherence and unity that characterize many accounts of the will. Focusing on a concept of 'the distributed will' - distinct from Rousseau's 'general will' - Ahmed proposes a consideration of the relationship between ethics and the will which refuses to assume at the outset that being out of sorts with the common good is a form of immorality. Considering the will internally fractious and insistent proves more than useful in understanding collective forms of willfulness, including political resistance. Like her other works known for their originality, sharpness, and reach, Ahmed offers here a vibrant, surprising, and philosophically rich analysis of cultural politics, drawing on feminist, queer and anti-racist uses of willing and willfulness to explain forms of sustained and adamant social disagreement as a constitutive part of any radical ethics and politics worth its name." "There is no one else writing in contemporary cultural theory who is able to take hold of a single concept with such a firm and sure grasp and follow it along an idiosyncratic path in such surprising and illuminating ways."

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