Notes: Sara Ahmed, “Feminism is Sensational” in Living a Feminist Life

Ahmed, Sara. (2017). Feminism is Sensational. Living a feminist life. Durham: Duke University Press, 21-42.


Ahmed describes/shares becoming/being feminist through the ways of noticing how violences and assignments are directed.

Keywords: feminism, feminist theory, theory, memory, killjoy


“If a sensation is how a body is in contact with a world, then something becomes sensational when contact becomes even more intense” (p. 22).

“My body its memory: to share a memory is to put a body into words” (p. 23).

“Violence becomes instruction when it is accompanied by a narrative, an explanation. When you have learned something, when you have received the message of this instruction, your feelings are given direction and shape. Your body reacts in the right way” (p. 25).

“Gendering operates in how bodies take up space” (p. 25).

“Feminist theory taught me that reality is usually just someone else’s tired explanation” (p. 29).

“If a world can be what we learn not to notice, noticing becomes a form of political labor” (p. 32).

“Feminist and antiracist consciousness involves not just finding the words, but through the words, how they point, realizing how violence is directed: violence is directed toward some bodies more than others” (p. 34).

When you expose a problem, you pose a problem” (p. 37, original emphasis).

Rolling eyes = feminist pedagogy” (p. 38, original emphasis).

“If alienation is sensation, it is not then just or only the sensation of negation: of experiencing the impress of a world as violence, although it includes those feelings. Alienation is studious; you learn more about wishes when they are not what you wish for. We can think of alienation as wonder: we wonder about things; we marvel at their assembly” (41).

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