Marjo Kolehmainen: Feeling (with) the field: Affect, atmosphere and knowledge production. SSPSSR seminar, University of Kent 28.2.2019

Dr. Marjo Kolehmainen will present her work at the SSPSSR seminar series, University of Kent (UK) on Thursday  the 28th of February, 2019. The title of her talk is: Feeling (with) the field: Affect, atmosphere and knowledge production.


The presentation engages with the issue of affective atmospheres in therapeutic cultures by drawing upon a detailed study of relationship and sex counselling in Finland. Its data consists of ethnographic investigations of 40 events, ranging from relationship enhancement seminars to a tantric workshop and from events catering to the recently separated to variously themed lectures. In particular, the presentation experiments methodologically with the use of the researcher-body to explore atmospheres, focusing on the researcher’s own embodied sensations and affective states. Diverse experiences of soaking up atmospheres, moving in/out of affective atmospheres, feeling the limits of collective belonging, and failing to ‘get’ the atmosphere when conducting fieldwork are analysed in order to produce knowledge of the ways in which affective atmospheres come to matter. Atmospheres are approached from the perspective of new materialist ontology, which shifts the focus of analysis from the feelings of individualised subjects to impersonal flows of affect through assemblages. In this way, the presentation aims to use the lens of affective atmospheres to map how situational and material therapeutic practices operate in/through both human and non-human bodies, providing an attempt to move away from human-centred notions of the therapeutic. Finally, it argues that affective atmospheres also speak to the importance of understanding the therapeutic realm through collective experiences, in contrast with the preoccupation with the notion of the self that has been placed at the core of analysis of therapeutic cultures.


The presentation will draw upon a forthcoming book chapter. More info to follow.