WRM-51304 Emotions in Debates on Natural Resources


Credits 4.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. E Shah
Lecturer(s)dr. ED Rasch
dr. ir. PA de Vries
dr. E Shah
dr. ir. CPG Driessen
dr. C Sato
dr DJ Ludwig
Examiner(s)dr. E Shah

Language of instruction:



In this course, we will examine a range of concepts and frameworks related to the study of human emotions. This has stimulated much debate and controversy among anthropologists, sociologists, geographers, including in the scholarly fields of history of science and cultural studies to an extent that it is described as "affective turn” or “turn to emotions”.  The key debates and concepts will then be further examined to understand how natural resource access, use, control, ownership and conflict are not only mediated through social relations of power but how emotional geographies or embodied subjectivities constitute the way nature–society relations are lived and experienced.

This course challenges the foundational philosophy of our entire scientific knowledge traditions that only our innate capacity to reason gives us knowledge of things as they really are and passions and emotions introduce nothing but elements of distortion. It upholds the claim of philosopher Nietzsche that people would be indifferent or inert to their surroundings if they lacked embodied, emotional attachment to it. We will discuss how emotions and reasons are inseparable in the making of knowledge; in fact, how at the site of the embodied “affective” experiences that the knowledge of the world is formed. The aim of the course is not to “add emotions and stir” the scientific knowledge production as “business as usual” but to challenge the dominant ideas about what constitutes knowledge and how it is produced.

The course will have seven blocks which will run through period 4, 5 and 6 (months of February, March, April, May, and first week of June). Each block of 3 hours will be organized every second week and will consist of part lectures and part elaborate discussions and interaction based on the lecture and recommended readings. In the first two blocks we will discuss the “affective turn” in social sciences and humanities, in the subsequent blocks students will apply the frame of emotions.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand how do different knowledge traditions engage with and conceptualise emotions, and how the emotional solidarity is the turf around which political identities are imagined, alliances are forged, socio-cultural subjectivities are formed, and knowledge of the world is created
- analyse the way social movements around resource conflicts are driven by indignation, fear, hope, a sense of right and wrong, or “how passion matters”
- rethink our relationship with nature and animals in the times of extinction, humanitarian crises, and an urgent need to rethink agriculture
- understand how affective relations between humans and non-humans are formed and their implications for collaborative research in the life science
- examine developmental practices not as success or failure but as a matter of gaps, dislocations and blind-spots – development as contradictory and seemingly ‘irrational practices
- understand feminist approaches to Affects and Subjectivities in the practice of “commoning” -- collectively managing a resource, knowledge and/or property.


Lectures, discussions, group work, reading recommended literature, and write reflection papers.


After each block, students will write a two pages long critical reflection on readings, lecture and discussions in each block, and will submit them in TurnItIn at Brightspace on the dates mentioned. Each of these reflection two pagers for 7 blocks will equally contribute to the final grade.