Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Race, Gender & Affect: A Conversation between Xine Yao and Lola Olufemi

29 September 2022, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm

Race, Gender & Affect

Part of the Perspectives on Racialisation, Gender and Feminist Methodologies seminar series 2022-23

This event is free.

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Sarah Parker Remond Centre


Wilkins Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
Second Floor, South Wing
UCL, Gower Street
United Kingdom

This event will take place in-person.

** Update on accessibility: Due to maintenance works, the lift located at the venue is out of order. With great regret, this venue will therefore not be accessible via a lift. Please note the venue is on the second floor of the building. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this. **

This event is hosted by UCL's Sarah Parker Remond Centre as part of the Perspectives on Racialisation, Gender and Feminist Methodologies Seminar Series 2022-2023 organised by Dr Gala Rexer, Research Fellow at the SPRC.

“I use ‘unfeeling’ as a broad term for a range of affective modes, performances, moments, patterns, and practices that fall outside of or are not legible using dominant regimes of expression. The range includes withholding, disregard, growing a thick skin, refusing to care, opacity, numbness, dissociation, inscrutability, frigidity, insensibility, obduracy, flatness, insensitivity, disinterest, coldness, heartlessness, fatigue, desensitization, and emotional unavailability.”

Xine Yao in Disaffected: The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth Century America

“Here is my method: above all, feeling! I aim, through experiments in feeling, to reveal and destroy what it is that keeps us here, what it is that stops us from deciding to leave even as the cinders mix with our hair, the smoke corrupts our lungs, the flames engulf the people we love.”

Lola Olufemi in Experiments in Imagining Otherwise

What is the role of feelings in producing and maintaining structures of domination - how is sentimentality used for nation-building, what are the affective requirements for rightful belonging and legibility (read: Humanity), who is deserving of sympathy? Affect is inextricable from power, and as such is produced across gendered and racialised registers. In this conversation, Dr. Xine Yao and writer Lola Olufemi discuss what sort of politics are enabled by unfeeling. How can apathy to dominant affective structures engender refusal, care, and dissent? And how does un/feeling help us to imagine the world otherwise?

About the speakers:

Dr Xine Yao is Lecturer in American Literature to 1900 as well as co-director of the queer studies network qUCL at University College London. Their first book is Disaffected: The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth-Century America (Duke, 2021) which has won Duke University Press’s Scholars of Color First Book Award as well as a Arthur Miller First Book Prize Honourable Mention from the British Association of American Studies. Other honours include the American Studies Association’s Yasuo Sakakibara Essay Prize. She is a BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinker and the co-host of PhDivas Podcast.

Lola Olufemi is a black feminist writer and Stuart Hall foundation researcher from London based in the Centre for Research and Education in Art and Media at the University of Westminster. Her work focuses on the uses of the feminist imagination and its relationship to cultural production, political demands and futurity. She is author of Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power (Pluto Press, 2020), Experiments in Imagining Otherwise (Hajar Press, 2021) and a member of 'bare minimum', an interdisciplinary anti-work arts collective.

Other events in the Perspectives on Racialisation, Gender and Feminist Methodologies seminar series:

Decolonial Feminist Thought: A conversation between Françoise Vergès and Edna Bonhomme, 25 October 2022, 6.30 - 8pm

Birthing Justice: A Black Feminist Workshop on Reproductive Justice, 18 January 2023, 10am - 4pm

Perspectives seminar series