Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Political Science

First Advisor

Anne Norton


In this project, I take the quotidian experience and proliferation of grief as a starting point. However, instead of being buried by this grief, this project argues that the very way our bodies express grief through crying calls out to other bodies, and in doing so, it holds the potential for political transformation. This political transformation provides something of a counterforce to the way grief seems like it might engulf us, bury us, and render us futile and inactive. The transformation occurs through the experience of grief, and the way the embodied experience of grief can involve a chance to challenge the very condition of powerlessness that results in and is intensified through the expression of grief. Crying is transformed from a mere expression of grief to a response to powerlessness, and a path to challenge this condition. The subsequent chapters in this project work to build out various concepts and readings that support this contention. Ultimately, this project lays out an argument for the potential of crying to engender political transformation, which takes the shape of affective solidarity, which becomes a mode through which to challenge the condition of powerlessness.

The first chapter provides a snapshot of the way grief animates politics, and gestures towards an opening to explore the work of the embodied expression of grief. The second chapter offers a theoretical vocabulary to the treatment of crying in this regard. In this chapter, embodied expression becomes the vehicle for intersubjectivity through affects. The third chapter examines the mobilization of affects, and argues that this mobilization is itself political because it becomes about power and powerlessness. The fourth chapter explores the mobilization of affects further, moving beyond intersubjectivity towards the suggestion of solidarity. The final chapter returns once again to the central argument to describe how an embodied expression of grief offers a response to a condition of powerlessness by producing an affective solidarity.