Infrastructural Affects

November 14, 2018


Metro station_affects

“[…] objects we encounter are not neutral: they enter our near sphere with an affective value already in place, which means they are already invested with positive or negative value.”   (Ahmed, 2010)

What are the affects evoked by the spaces in and around the metro station in Bagarmossen? Some of those affects are probably common with all or at least many of the metro stations in Stockholm. My guess is that most people have rather neutral or not so strong emotions and feelings towards, or generated by, a metro station. For some people it’s a shelter and a refuge, a place where you are allowed when you don’t have that many other places to go. A common description is that the metro is stressful and crowded, and that everyone looks grumpy and bored. It is not at all related to feelings of happiness. It is a place you pass by, an in-between place where you wait for transporting yourself to the point of your intentional visit or stay. There is nothing to do really but to stand or sit and wait and maybe talk to someone. Perhaps it is more the feeling towards the final destination of your journey that influence the affect towards, or generated by, your transfer and your presence in the metro. In the morning rush hour, you are affected in one way, and when taking the metro on a Saturday night to see your close friends for a beer, there is another mood and you are affected in another way. “If we arrive at objects with an expectation of how we will be affected by them, this affects how they affects us, even in the moment they fail to live up to our expectations.” (Ahmed, 2010) To connect to the quote above, my guess is that most people do not expect to experience feelings of happiness and are therefore not disappointed by the absence of happiness. In the metro, even a small daily life event, can make you smile, because you don’t expect or anticipate it to happen.
It was an interesting experience when I visited New York several years ago. There, it was considered a bit “low class” to use the metro. Apparently “everyone” took a taxi in the evening, both because the view of the metro and that it was considered a bit dangerous in the evenings. Being used to always taking the metro home, I found myself almost alone on the metro one evening and it made me question if I had made a bad judgement and exposed myself to unnecessary risks. And how, in a large city like New York, a smart solution like the metro could have such a bad reputation that it actually stopped people from using it.

Helena Eriksson


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