This essay explores the affects that circulate in and around libraries from a perspective informed by feminist cultural studies and Black feminist theory. I situate the library as an institution devoted to the cultivation of sentiment and the creation of virtual publics. Though flush with the promises of freedom and equality, this legacy remains fraught with contradiction: for those promises are implicated in the oppressive structures of capitalism and patriarchal white supremacy. And new rationalizations of old forms of state-sanctioned violence and neglect, though targeted specifically at the most vulnerable, constitute an existential threat to us all. Yet the proper subject of such promises—the liberal subject of racialized and gendered privilege—has failed, again and again, to imagine how the world might turn out otherwise than this. In the hopes of practicing forms of accountability to the wisdom of others, I situate myself, as a beneficiary of structural oppression, vis-a-vis the melancholy that troubles the profession of liberal (or library) sentiments with what haunts the present and threatens the future.
Johns Hopkins University Press and the Illinois School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Series/Report Name or Number
Library Trends 68 (3). Winter 2020
Type of Resource
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