Questioning New Materialisms (2018)

Abstract

New materialists have challenged our thinking about matter in important and meaningful ways. Building a critique of the work of Diana Coole, Samantha Frost, and Jane Bennett, this article introduces a special section which challenges the direction of their work in a constructive manner. We provide a four-fold critical appraisal here: of the historical, posthumanist, technological and emancipatory facets of the new materialisms. Our central claim is that the new materialisms are plural and that they need to be understood in a wider sense than is claimed in much of the literature. This article addresses the question: to what extent can a pluralism of new materialisms be compatible with the radical and emancipatory agenda of its founding theorists? Our answer is that it is not only possible to achieve such radical emancipation, but also necessary to address these concerns.

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