Trayvon Revisited: Race, Fear, and Affect in the Death of Trayvon Martin

Mauricio T. Torres, Mary Cannito-Coville, Dalia Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This theoretical project intervenes in the debates surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin by starting with fear, the center of Martin's encounter with his killer, George Zimmerman. We deploy the work of Sara Ahmed in order to argue that fear, rather than residing positively in an individual, works as an affective economy that opens up past histories of association. Ahmed's work allows us to move beyond the question of whether or not Zimmerman was consciously racist and instead consider how fear is animated by racist histories of association. We argue that the affective charge of these racist histories accomplishes three interrelated things. First, it allows Zimmerman to frame Martin as dangerous as he calls 911 to report Martin's suspicious presence, an act that comes to constitute Zimmerman's fear. Second, it allows for Martin to be seized epistemologically and ontologically by Zimmerman and killed. Last, it makes Martin's death a functional necessity of Zimmerman's defense, making it challenging to leverage any claim for the injustice of Martin's death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1112-1126
Number of pages15
JournalSociological Forum
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Trayvon Martin
  • affect
  • bias and discrimination
  • blackness
  • fear
  • race
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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