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Promise of Happiness

ISBN-10: 0822347253
ISBN-13: 9780822347255
Edition: 2010
Authors: Sara Ahmed
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Description: The Promise of Happinessis a provocative cultural critique of the imperative to be happy. It asks what follows when we make our desires and even our own happiness conditional on the happiness of others: "I just want you to be happy," "I'm happy if  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication date: 4/6/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 328
Size: 6.13" wide x 8.88" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.210
Language: English

The Promise of Happinessis a provocative cultural critique of the imperative to be happy. It asks what follows when we make our desires and even our own happiness conditional on the happiness of others: "I just want you to be happy," "I'm happy if you're happy." Combining philosophy and feminist cultural studies, Sara Ahmed reveals the affective and moral work performed by the "happiness duty," the expectation that we will be made happy by taking part in that which is deemed good, and that by being happy ourselves, we will make others happy. Ahmed maintains that happiness is a promise that directs us toward certain life choices and away from others. Happiness is promised to those willing to live their lives in the right way. Ahmed draws on the intellectual history of happiness, from classical accounts of ethics as the good life, through seventeenth-century writings on affect and the passions, eighteenth-century debates on virtue and education, and nineteenth-century utilitarianism. She engages with feminist, antiracist, and queer critics who have shown how happiness is used to justify social oppression, and how challenging oppression sometimes causes unhappiness. Reading novels and films includingMrs. Dalloway,The Well of Loneliness,Bend It Like Beckham, andChildren of Men, Ahmed considers the plight of the figures who are challenged by, and themselves challenge, the attribution of happiness to particular objects or social ideals: the feminist killjoy, the unhappy queer, the angry black woman, and the melancholic migrant. Through her readings, she raises critical questions about the moral order imposed by the injunction to be happy.

Sara Ahmed works for the Canadian International Development Research Center regional office in New Delhi.

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Why Happiness, Why Now?
Happy Objects
Feminist Killjoys
Unhappy Queers
Melancholic Migrants
Happy Futures
Conclusion: Happiness, Ethics, Possibility
Notes
References
Index

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