Entangled Worlds (2017)

Historically speaking, theology can be said to operate “materiaphobically.” Protestant Christianity in particular has bestowed upon theology a privilege of the soul over the body and belief over practice, in line with the distinction between a disembodied God and the inanimate world “He” created. Like all other human, social, and natural sciences, religious studies imported these theological dualisms into a purportedly secular modernity, mapping them furthermore onto the distinction between a rational, “enlightened” Europe on the one hand and a variously emotional, “primitive,” and “animist” non-Europe on the other.

The “new materialisms” currently coursing through cultural, feminist, political, and queer theories seek to displace human privilege by attending to the agency of matter itself. Far from being passive or inert, they show us that matter acts, creates, destroys, and transforms—and, as such, is more of a process than a thing. Entangled Worlds examines the intersections of religion and new and old materialisms. Calling upon an interdisciplinary throng of scholars in science studies, religious studies, and theology, it assembles a multiplicity of experimental perspectives on materiality: What is matter, how does it materialize, and what sorts of worlds are enacted in its varied entanglements with divinity?

While both theology and religious studies have over the past few decades come to prioritize the material contexts and bodily ecologies of more-than-human life, Entangled Worlds sets forth the first multivocal conversation between religious studies, theology, and the body of “the new materialism.” Here disciplines and traditions touch, transgress, and contaminate one another across their several carefully specified contexts. And in the responsiveness of this mutual touching of science, religion, philosophy, and theology, the growing complexity of our entanglements takes on a consistent ethical texture of urgency.
— Read on www.fordhampress.com/9780823276226/entangled-worlds/

Two Recent Articles on New Materialism

The Head, the Hand, and Matter: New Materialism and the Politics of Knowledge

P Rekret – Theory, Culture & Society, 2018
This article seeks to examine the political connotations of a recent ‘material turn’ in social and political theory and its implications for theorizations of political agency. ‘New materialist’ theories are premised upon transcending the limits which social constructivism places upon thought, viewed as a reification of the division of subject and object and so a hubristic anthropocentrism which places human beings at the centre of social existence. Yet new materialist theories have tended to locate the conditions of the separation of mind and world they seek to overcome upon the terrain of epistemic or ethical error. By taking the work of Quentin Meillassoux, Jane Bennett and Karen Barad as exemplary, this article contends that new materialist theories not only fall short of their own materialist pretensions insofar as they do not interrogate the material conditions of the separation of the mental and material, but that the failure to do so has profound repercussions for the success of their accounts of political agency. This essay seeks to offer a counter-narrative to new materialist theories by situating the hierarchy between thought and world as a structural feature of capitalist social relations.

Materia Agens, Materia Loquens: Ecocriticism and the Narrative Agency of Matter

S Iovino – 2018

Inspired by the theoretical debates about distributed fields of agency and of meaning, the so-called “material turn” sheds its effects also on ecocriticism. Its main conceptual tenet, the agency of matter, has in fact vast implications on the ideas of narrativity and text. If matter is agentic, and endowed with meanings, every material configuration, from bodies to their contexts of living, is “telling,” and therefore can be the object of a critical analysis aimed at discovering its stories, its material and discursive interplays, its place in a “cho- reography of becoming.” In this article I will explore this new dimension of ecocriticism looking at the example of some meaningful narratives about the intermingling of living bodies, social forms, and what, following Bruno Latour, we can call “actants”: “things” or assemblages of things that, in various forms and patterns, interact and interfere with human life, interlacing with the emerging meanings and agencies. In particular, I will concentrate on visual media and literary “embodied” narratives that show how the “material self” is a crossroads of multiple agencies.

The Birth of Nomos, Thanos Zartaloudis (2018)

This book looks absolutely essential. My only resource on this important term for the last decade has been Emmanuel Laroche, Histoire de la racine nem- en grec ancien (nemō, nemesis, nomos, nomizō) (1949).

 

Delves into the history of the ancient Greek word nomos (and related words) to reveal the interdisciplinary depth of this term beyond its later meaning of ‘law’ or ‘law-making’

This is a highly original, interdisciplinary study of the archaic Greek word nomos and its family of words. Thanos Zartaloudis draws out the richness of this fundamental term by exploring its many uses over the centuries.

The Birth of Nomos includes extracts from a wide range of ancient sources, in both the original and English translation, including material from legal history, philosophy, philology, linguistics, ancient history, poetry, archaeology, ancient musicology and anthropology. Through a thorough analysis of these extracts, we gain a new understanding of nomos and its foundational place in the Western legal tradition.

Key Features

  • Assembles a genealogical history of the ancient Greek work nomos, showing how it contains a richness that is not reflected in its classical and modern usage as simply ‘law’ or ‘law-making’

  • Draws on works by ancient Greek philosophers, poets and tragedians including Homer, Hesiod, Alcman, Pindar, Archilochos, Theognis, Heraclitus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Plato

  • Includes extracts from ancient primary sources, in both the original and in English translation, to analyse how nomos has been used in the literary evidence and in context

  • Considers how nomos has been used by contemporary philosophers, including Agamben, Foucault, Heidegger, Schmitt, Deleuze and Axelos, and re-examines their interpretations

https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-the-birth-of-nomos-hb.html

Thanos Zartaloudis, The Birth of Nomos – Edinburgh University Press, November 2018

Recently Published Articles on New Materialism

Curiosity, Criticality and Materiality

Can E. Mutlu in conversation with Mark B. Salter

Abstract

In this chapter Mark B. Salter, current editor of Security Dialogue, discusses with Can E. Mutlu the meaning and significance of technology for International Relations in light of his eclectic work. Salter, perhaps best-known for his dynamic presentations and engaging intellectual approach and recently for the two-volume project Making Things International, traces his engagement with technology across a vast field of contributions ranging from civilization in international politics, the genealogy of the modern passport, and critical security studies, touching on Foucauldian and Bourdieusian notions. In the conversation, Salter reflects on the recent material turn in IR and the expansion of this as a significant research area within critical consciousness in IR, with more and more people working on materiality, science and technology studies, actor-network theory. He points to the importance of remembering that we are not the first generation to experience this kind of epochal change, and that emancipatory change happens through engagement, and how technology is shaping the encounter with the Other—reminding us that scholarship can and should start with curiosity and intuition.

 

Theory Is Technology; Technology Is Theory

Linda Monsees in Conversation with Ole Wæver

Abstract

New technology is undoubtedly changing world politics. But does this necessarily require new theories? In this interview, we explore the challenges facing a (political) theory of technology and how to understand the novelty of technologies such as Big Data. Ole Wæver recounts his early interest in technology and how theorizing technology demands that we look at different kinds of acts. Some of the main challenges include unintended effects and the assessment of decisions made within complex systems. We go back to Langdon Winner’s early work on the political character of technology, and discuss why his ideas might be more valuable than concepts often subsumed under the heading of ‘New Materialism’.

 

Chapter 17
Commentary: Belonging and Belongings: On Migrant and Nomadic Heritages in and for the Anthropocene

Rodney Harrison, Staffan Appelgren, and Anna Bohlin

Introduction

As the introduction to this timely volume notes, there has for some time been a significant gap in the field of migration studies in relation to understandings of how the experience of forced and undocumented migration mobilizes and sets in motion different forms of material culture, and related questions of how archaeologists, anthropologists, museums, and herit- age institutions can reflect upon and engage with such processes (but see, e.g. Bender 2001; Bender and Winer 2001; Byrne 2003; Basu and Coleman 2008; Dudley 2011; Soto 2016).

 

The New Novelty: Corralation as Quarantine in Speculative Realism and New Materialism

The foundational gesture of New Materialism and Speculative Realism dismisses vast swaths of past philosophy and theory in order to signify their own avant-garde status. The violence of this gesture, which tries to corral difference within past texts in order to feign its own purity, can be considered as a theoretical quarantine. Examples of medical and spiritual quarantine, the 2014 ebola epidemic and Jesus’ temptation, are analyzed to show that the figure is inherently compromised – the harder one fights to keep the other away, the more one becomes inseparable from it. Derrida’s reflections on the reactions against deconstruction show that this desire for progress is always inherently conservative; Meillassoux and Jane Bennett are considered as contemporary examples. A deconstruction of corralation and the academico-capitalist forces driving these ‘innovations’ might open us to reading the never-simply-past text, and to the possibility of the event.

Materialities and historical geographies: An introduction

 

Guest Editors (Special Issue on Posthumanism)

M Greedharry, M Yeo, R Fillion, B Buchanan…

… focused on the limits of human knowledge and challenged universal truth

claims, in recent years, several theoretical approaches, which appeared

separately, have sought to re-examine the enduring importance of matter …

Life in Common: Distributive Ecological Justice on a Shared Earth

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/78647598/FULL_TEXT.PDF

 

Political Geology: Active Stratigraphies and the Making of Life (Palgrave 2018), ed. Adam Bobbette and Amy Donovan

Image result for Political Geology Active Stratigraphies and the Making of Life

“This book explores the emerging field of political geology, an area of study dedicated to understanding the cross-sections between geology and politics. It considers how geological forces such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and unstable ground are political forces and how political forces have an impact on the earth. Together the authors seek to understand how the geos has been known, spoken for, captured, controlled and represented while creating the active underlying strata for producing worlds.

This comprehensive collection covers a variety of interdisciplinary topics including the history of the geological sciences, non-Western theories of geology, the origin of the earth, and the relationship between humans and nature. It includes chapters that re-think the earth’s ‘geostory’ as well as case studies on the politics of earthquakes in Mexico city, shamans on an Indonesian volcano, geologists at Oxford, and eroding islands in Japan. In each case political geology is attentive to the encounters between political projects and the generative geological materials that are enlisted and often slip, liquefy or erode away. This book will be of great interest to scholars and practitioners across the political and geographical sciences, as well as to philosophers of science, anthropologists and sociologists more broadly.”

This looks like a great collection!

Table of Contents

Political Geology: An Introduction
Adam Bobbette, Amy Donovan

Political Geologies of Knowledge
Front Matter
Pages 35-35

Genealogies of Geomorphological Techniques
Rachael Tily
Pages 37-69

Baroque Soil: Mexico City in the Aftermath
Seth Denizen
Pages 71-104

Geo-Metrics and Geo-Politics: Controversies in Estimating European Shale Gas Resources
Kärg Kama, Magdalena Kuchler
Pages 105-145

From Becoming-Geology to Geology-Becoming: Hashima as Geopolitics
Deborah Dixon
Pages 147-165

Amodern Political Geologies
Front Matter
Pages 167-167

Cosmological Reason on a Volcano
Adam Bobbette
Pages 169-199

Against ‘Terrenism’: Léopold Sédar Senghor, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the Fear of a De-spiritualised Earth
Angela Last
Pages 201-217

How the Earth Remembers and Forgets
Bronislaw Szerszynski
Pages 219-236

Political Geologies of the Future
Front Matter
Pages 237-237

Attention in the Anthropocene: On the Spiritual Exercises of Any Future Science
Simone Kotva
Pages 239-261

Political Geologies of Magma
Nigel Clark
Pages 263-292

Politics of the Lively Geos: Volcanism and Geomancy in Korea
Amy Donovan
Pages 293-343

Epilogue
Front Matter
Pages 345-345

Encountering the Earth: Political Geological Futures?
Adam Bobbette, Amy Donovan
Pages 347-371
Back Matter
Pages 373-379

 

 

 

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.