Marking humans for consumption, whilst erasing others: affective becomings and the workings of (dis)comfort

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In the becoming of neoliberal cities, consumption can play an important role in the process of marking who is human, that is, fit for consumption, and who is not. This paper explores such processes as affective becomings and focuses on the workings of comfort and discomfort to highlight how some bodies are delegitimized in order for others to become legitimatized. Using an ethnographic approach with affective methodologies, I trace the process of erasing activism collectives that were resisting gentrification in São Paulo and advocating the ‘right to the city’. The contribution of this paper is threefold. Firstly, it highlights how the becoming of the neoliberal city follows a neoliberal normativity in tandem with a colonial one. By exploring how spaces, bodies, and norms are always related to one another in this process, I highlight how ‘the consumer’ has become the body who counts (i.e. the human). Secondly, this paper shows how activism work refracts the dynamics of the neoliberal-colonial normativity, as it (re)acts to its mechanisms for sorting out bodies. Thirdly, this paper highlights the political dimensions of (dis)comfort that mark the splitting of legitimate and illegitimate bodies in a social reproduction for consumption. Consequently, it explores how discomfort has been used as a political-affective tool of delegitimization, subjugation, and oppression.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Early online date24 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2023

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