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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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The Form of Crisis and the Affect of Modernization

The Form of Crisis and the Affect of Modernization

(p.39) Three The Form of Crisis and the Affect of Modernization
African Futures

Brian Larkin

University of Chicago Press

A crisis is a moment of categorization – an appellation given to events in the world that combines, orders and fixes those events into the bounded system that can be called crisis. Every crisis is thus a speech act, a performative event issued by some seeking to interrupt the raw flow of reality to impose distinctions. It is a conceptual technology, a means of categorizing, periodizing and standardizing. It is metareflexive, a way people frame and narrativise events in the world. This chapter examines the multiple meanings and forms of “crisis” in contemporary discourses on Africa. Crises come thick and fast, piling one on top of the other, tumbling over each other making the distinctions about what is stable, what is disrupted, and what is resolved uneasy deliberations. There is no way out of this except to make clear the boundaries of the concept when we use it, and cognizant of the historicity we are evoking when we use the term.

Keywords:   crisis, periodization, conceptual history, framing, affect

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