Naming the Cologne Assaulters: Affect and Cultural Explanations

Amalie Corvinius Jakobsen, Line Søe Munk, Dea Juul Larsen, Maïwenn Mønsted Jensen-Guenec & Frederikke Christine Bothe

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


The purpose of this project is to examine how cultural explanations and affective economies are interdependent, based on the public debate following incidents of sexual assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015/2016. The project takes its point of departure in an episode of the Danish TV-debate programme ‘Debatten: A New Battle for Gender Equality?’, where an overall consensus ascribes the responsibility of the attacks to non-Western culture. Sara Ahmed’s terminology in ‘The Cultural Politics of Emotion’ (2014) describes how bodily encounters involve creating the very surfaces of bodies, so that signs ‘stick’ to certain bodies. The sticking of signs happens in ‘circulation’ that makes the value of signs increase the more they circulate. This theory enables us to assess how different non-Western individuals are made into figures aligned with each other in ‘Debatten’. These figures accumulate affective value because of their histories of association; histories that we find to be dependent on discursive and affective processes related to a colonial heritage. Assembling all these figures into a single figure of ‘the non-Westerner’ can be seen as a reproduction of orientalist patterns, creating borders between ‘the West’ and ‘the Orient’. Thus, the cultural explanations articulated in ‘Debatten’ are rendered possible by colonial ‘othering’, a discourse that in turn relies on the constant affective circulation of signs associated with ‘the other’; making cultural explanations and affective economies interdependent.

UddannelserKultur- og Sprogmødestudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato23 maj 2016
VejledereHarsløf Mukherjee Holst & Tore Elias


  • Sara Ahmed
  • Postcolonialism
  • Orientalism
  • Affect
  • Culture
  • Cultural Explanations