In this article I discuss the way affect has featured in discussions of identity, focusing on ethnic and national identities. While affect features in most discussions of ethnicity it has mostly been dismissed as a testament to the irrationality and dangerous qualities of the identity in question. Such discussions adopt a simplistic model of human psychology, usually based on a hydraulic model of the emotions. After considering some recent and pioneering work that foregrounds the role of affectivity in group formations, I proceed to outline the basis for a phenomenological psychology of affect and group identities incorporating insights from psychoanalysis and phenomenology. One cannot begin to discuss the proper role of identity in the public sphere without first considering the emotional dynamics that underlie such group formations.
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