Law and Critique

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 345–365 | Cite as

The Organisation of Hate

  • Sara Ahmed


In this paper, it is argued that we need to understand the role of ‘hate’ in the organisation of bodies and spaces before we ask the question of the limits of ‘hate crime’ as a legal category. Rather than assuming hate is a psychological disposition - that it comes from within a psyche and then moves out to others - the paper suggests that hate works to align individual and collective bodies through the very intensity of its attachments. Such alignments are unstable precisely given the fact that hate does not reside in a subject, object or body; the instability of hate is what makes it so powerful in generating the effects that it does. Furthermore, although hate does not reside positively in a subject, body or sign, this does not mean that hate does have effects that are structural and mediated. This paper shows that hate becomes attached or ‘stuck’ to particular bodies, often through violence, force and harm. The paper dramatizes its arguments by a reflection on racism as hate crime, looking at the circulation of figures of hate in discourses of nationhood, from both extreme right wing and mainstream political parties. It also considers the part of what hate is doing can precisely be understood in terms of the affect it has on the bodies of those designated as the hated, an affective life that is crucial to the injustice of hate crime.

affect alignment attachment displacement hate racism 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Ahmed
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Women's StudiesLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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