The (Changing) Affect of Jackson Heights

My close friends and I have grown up in Jackson Heights all my life — but within the past few years, we weren’t able to quite pinpoint why the neighborhood was starting to “feel” so different.

In Jane Bennett’s “Vibrancy of Matter,” she challenges the notion that matter is lifeless and inactive. Instead, she argues in support of matter’s active power to shape experiences and perceptions. In addition, Teresa Brennan’s “The Transmission of Affect” discusses how affect has the ability to alter “…the biochemistry and neurology of the subject. The ‘atmosphere’ or environment literally gets into the individual” (1).  The subjects I chose for my second round of images were inspired by Bennet’s exploration of the affective role nonhuman materials play in public life and Teresa Brennan’s discussion of the biological impact an environment has on individuals due to transmission of affect.

As Bennett states, matter is alive because it is capable of making a difference. Physical matter of housing units, public spaces, and merchants have a deep impact on the social, economic and cultural fabric of Jackson Heights. The arrival of a non-immigrant demographic in Jackson Heights coincides with the arrival of new tastes and expectations. These new tastes and expectations are personified through the forms of “vibrant matter” such as the construction of condos, the re-construction of public spaces, and the removal of local merchants.


Jackson Heights Resident Looks at Poster on New Construction of Old “Apna Bazaar”

One subject of choice was the reconstruction of “Apna Bazaar,” a local grocery store that predominately served Jackson Height’s South Asian residents. I never paid much attention to the affect of the grocery store until it was stripped away and replaced by construction. To me, the only affective remains of Apna Bazaar is from the local advertisements placed by South Asian professionals on the construction billboard. Once the billboard is gone, the construction is lifted, and the new project is revealed, the physical neighborhood will feel less reflective of its South Asian residents.


The “New Jackson Heights”

Another subject of choice is a residential condo near “Diversity Plaza”. Although this condo has been present in Jackson Heights for a while, it was one of the few buildings that always seemed odd and out of place to my friends and I. This building felt irrelevant and amusingly out-of-place. This is may be due to the fact that “Diversity Plaza,” construction of a new luxury condo, and new storefronts didn’t exist (pictured below).

With the recent developments, the “ratty local stores” feel like the outlier and no longer suit the affect of the “new Jackson Heights.” Suddenly, this condo feels like the only physical matter that makes sense with the affect of the new environment.

With these new developments, immigrants are pressured to either flee from or assimilate to a neighborhood that no longer serves them. Thus, nonhuman matter, or “vibrant matter,” has altered the course of events for immigrants living in Jackson Heights.

Before, I couldn’t understanding why my neighborhood felt so different. After reading Bennett’s and Brennan’s work, I have a new awareness of how “vibrant matters” can cause affective change and have developed an understanding of the deep-rooted impact transmission of affect can have on myself, my friends, and other long-time residents of Jackson Heights.


By Mahin Rahaman

~ by mahinrahaman on September 23, 2018.

7 Responses to “The (Changing) Affect of Jackson Heights”

  1. Best all around

    • This post clearly explores the key concepts in Bennett and Brennan’s articles and effectively applies those for her own site. In addition, I like her pictures and her descriptions for the images. She also expresses her insights after reading those articles in the last paragraph.

  2. Best all around- you relate the readings perfectly to the topic which allowed you to emotionally connect with it more.

  3. I felt that this was the best overall post in addition to best style, affect and voice. Her personal experience of growing up in the neighborhood brings a very real and authentic dynamic to this post. It’s very clear that the issue of non-immigrant citizens moving into Jackson Heights is something that is important to her. Mahin has also very clearly stated what the precarity is with some well-researched points as well as images that make it easy to visualize the issues at hand. All this in addition to her relevant references to this week’s readings make this a great blog post.

    By reading your Blog, I was able to visualize myself in Jackson Heights and see the future displacement of resource that the Immigrants have heavily relied on. Its is very unfair because the people the ones that help shape and build these community to cater to their needs. In addition, now they are in tough situation either to leave or assimilate to the new invaders that are coming in. You were very clear in describing your blog post, I understand the precarity of the topic and with picture it help me become more engage with the cause that you will be addressing.

  5. Best style, voice, and affect: you’ve deeply interwoven your personal background and experience with your investigation of Jackson Heights based on the two readings. You stated the focus of these photographs to demonstrate the “the affective role nonhuman materials” and biological impact due to transmission of affect. Your specific example of the reconstruction of “Apna Bazaar” reflects its power in forming your personal impression of the neighborhood as well as the changes it has brought to the affective atmosphere of the surrounding environment.

    Best all around: Your post has a great balance between your interpretation and application of the readings, specific examples from your chosen ecology sites, and your personal thoughts and affective experience. It was very easy to understand and deepened my understanding of the readings as well as the neighborhood.

  6. Best overall blog post: I really liked how you have interwoven your own personal experience of Jackson Heights with the readings and research into the changes taking place at this site. I also really liked how you decide to narrow down your focus to particular infrastructures that best emulate the changing affects in the area.

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