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Unsettling Basic States: New Directions in the Cross-Cultural Study of Emotion

Unsettling Basic States: New Directions in the Cross-Cultural Study of Emotion

Chapter:
(p.101) Six Unsettling Basic States: New Directions in the Cross-Cultural Study of Emotion
Source:
Universalism without Uniformity
Author(s):
Julia L. Cassaniti
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226501710.003.0007

There may not be basic emotional states uniformly experienced across time and space. Nevertheless, we can systematically make sense of a universal human capacity for feelings, and a potential to recognize them in each other, through an interdisciplinary perspective on componential qualities of emotional experience. In this essay Julia Cassaniti draws out such a cultural psychology approach to the study of emotional universality, highlighting a Thai Buddhist theory of emotionality based on an interpretive scheme of cultural meanings tied to a local moral causal ontology, and showing how this scheme makes sense of emotionality not at the level of discrete emotions but through locally elaborated dimensions, or components. Using a case example of the affective response to a flooded house in Northern Thailand, she argues that such a perspective allows for the study of similarity without claiming cross-cultural uniformity of emotions as natural kinds.

Keywords:   affect, emotion, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Buddhism, cultural psychology, psychological anthropology, cross-cultural psychology, ekman

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