Affective (Self-) Transformations: Empathy, Mediation and International Development

  • Carolyn Pedwell
Part of the Thinking Gender in Transnational Times book series (THINKGEN)


As Sandra Bartky’s words above articulate potently, affective self-transformation has been understood within feminist and anti-racist literatures as central to achieving social justice. Through empathetic identification with another, it is suggested, one can open oneself up to different ways of knowing and new forms of intersubjectivity with the potential to dislodge and rearticulate dominant assumptions, truths and boundaries which underscore gendered, racialised and classed hierarchies. 1 If empathy — defined in shorthand as the ability to ‘put oneself in the shoes of another’ — can work to radically transform (privileged) subjects, as these thinkers suggest, then it may function to promote more ethical relations between people as well as meaningful action and change across cultural and social divides, rather than ‘passivity’ (Boler, 1999), ‘withholding’ (Berlant, 2004) or retreat into a ‘yuppie lifestyle’ (Alcoff, 1995).


Development Professional International Development Affective Relation Development Practitioner Visual Culture 
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Copyright information

© Carolyn Pedwell 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn Pedwell
    • 1
  1. 1.Newcastle UniversityUK

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