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ΑρχικήEnglish EditionWhere people actually admit they want to become different: Love Politics

Where people actually admit they want to become different: Love Politics

By Evridiki Fatolia,

Lauren Berlant said once “I often talk about love as one of the few places where people actually admit they want to become different.” Then, Black feminist love-politics establishes a radical vision of the public sphere; second, black feminist love-politics maintains a new connection to temporality in general, and to futurity in particular. In each of these ways, black feminist love-politics deviates sharply from the identitarian labour of intersectionality, demonstrating the existence—indeed, vibrancy—of many black feminist political traditions. The love-politics of black feminism provides a compelling reconception of the public space. Cvetkovich suggests that we keep the definition of “public culture” broad to allow for “forms of affective life that have not solidified into institutions, organisations, or identities” (Cvetkovich 2003, 9), as well as Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, who “support forms of affective, erotic, and personal living that are public in the sense of accessible, available to memory, and sustained through collective activity.” Understanding “public culture” is also indebted to the interdisciplinary work on the “black public sphere,” which treats a vast archive—from “street talk and new musics, radio shows and church voices”—as part of a “wider sphere of critical practice and visionary politics” (Black Public Sphere Collective 1995, 3).

Image source: conwayhall.org.uk

The love-politics of black feminism creates a public culture built on a collective “public feeling” of love, or what Jordan refers to as “a steady-state deep caring and respect for every other human being, a love that can only derive from a secure and positive self-love” (Jordan 2003, 272). Love, then, is a self-practice, a self-labor that serves as the foundation of political communities based on a radical ethic. Such allegiance to the present is suspended by black feminist love-politics, which recognises that altering the grammar of our contemporary political moment will not free us from the script that is always already in place. Instead, practitioners of love politics see a society governed by love, by a radical embracing of difference, by a group of subjects who work on/against themselves to work for one other. Of course, dreaming does not suspend labour; black feminist love-politics practitioners have always believed that the radical future necessitates certain types of very hard work, pushing beyond our investments in selfhood and sameness and towards collectivities and possibilities. This view also does not ignore the numerous ways in which power and institutions of dominance act on and against bodies in both mundane and dramatic ways. It is a critical response to ordinary violence and the existence of inequality that calls for imaginative politics.

Finally, black feminist love-politics provides a break from the identitarian political labour so frequently connected with black feminism. The lengthy labour of love-politics in black feminism uncovers an understudied black feminist political heritage and emphasises the significance of not restricting black feminist work just to intersectional work. In doing so, this research seeks to challenge a wider trend in feminist theory that relegates black feminism to the category of feminisms-past, feminisms that are problematically (and anachronistically) associated with identity. Second, reading the long-standing concern in affect in black feminism reveals that the roots of the “affective turn” are significantly more diversified than commonly theorised. Despite the fact that affect theory and queer theory are closely linked, the labour of building political communities around “public feelings” and “communal affect” has been a black feminist investment for decades. Eventually, understanding black feminism’s love-politics takes up Hardt and Negri’s call to support a “politics of love.” Indeed, black feminism’s visionary love-politics turns a phrase like “where is the love?” from a personal concern about romantic love into a political cry for transcending the self and reshaping the public space.

  • Jennifer C. Nash; Practicing Love: Black Feminism, Love-Politics, and Post-Intersectionality. Meridians 1 December 2020; 19 (S1): 439–462
  • Conley, T., Gusakova, S., & Piemonte, J. (2018). Love Is Political: How Power and Bias Influence Our Intimate Lives. In R. Sternberg & K. Sternberg (Eds.), The New Psychology of Love (pp. 117-137). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Evridiki Fatolia
She was born in 2000. She graduated from the Law School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 2022 and is currently pursuing her LLM at the University of Reading in the field of International Commercial Law combined with Intellectual Property and Management. She speaks English and Italian and is also learning Chinese, German, and Russian. Her hobbies are photography and hiking.