This interview is cross-posted from the New Books in Global Ethics and Politics podcast on the New Books Network, where John is one of the hosts. You should probably be listening to them in addition to your trusty Always Already Podcast. Text below is from the original post at New Books in Global Ethics and Politics.
What are the multiple meanings, ambivalences, possible risks, and potentials for transformation that arise from interrogating empathy on a transnational scale? Carolyn Pedwell (University of Kent) thinks through these complex questions in her new book, Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). The book ambitiously traverses multiple disciplinary and intellectual boundaries, drawing together feminist and anti-racist social theory, media and cultural studies, international development texts and practices, scientific studies of empathy, the political rhetoric of Barack Obama, business books on empathy, and more. In doing so, Pedwell queries empathy as a social and political relation that cannot be separated from power, conflict, oppression, and inequality. This book explores the ways that empathy is a contested term employed transnationally in various ways and on behalf of various political and social interests, traces the ways that empathy might be translated and felt differently.