Imperfect Solidarities, Aruna D’Souza, Floating Opera Press, 2024, 12 x 17 cm, 92 pages, PB
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Can empathy deliver political change? Does art that elicits emotional identification with others take us where we need to go? In Imperfect Solidarities, writer and art historian Aruna D’Souza offers observations pulled from current events as well as contemporary art that suggest that a feeling of understanding or closeness based on emotion is an imperfect ground for solidarity. Empathy—and its correlate, love—is a distraction from the hard work that needs to be done to achieve justice. Rather, D’Souza contends, we need to imagine a form of political solidarity that is not based on empathy, but on the much more difficult obligation of care. When we can respect the unknowability of the other and still care for and with them, without translating ourselves into their terms, perhaps we will fare better at building political bridges.


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