Monday, October 20, 2014

New Materialism and Anti-Racism

In a recent facebook thread, there was a discussion about speculative realism and new materialism (and allied groups) relationship to feminism, queer theory, and anti-racist philosophy. In that thread, I pointed out some of the obvious new materialist thinkers working on feminist and/or queer theory fields. What I want to do here is collect the works where thinkers use new materialist insights to think through anti-racism. This list will be incomplete, and I welcome anyone who wants to add to the bibliography (I will edit this post as necessary). Also, by new materialists I am using the term in the broadest sense. I mean here thinkers who are broadly engaged in new materialism, speculative realism, non-representational theory, constructivist philosophy, posthumanism, and generally all the headings that can be thought under the metaphysical/ontological/non-human turn. I have also decided to write some very quick summaries of each text. The summaries are not super great, but should give you a sense of how the text deals with race and new materialism.

Mel Chen: Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect. Chen explores the ways that we navigate what we consider to be animate, to be living or dead. In so doing she particularly explores the ways that certain material objects come to be racialized, and she explores the ways other beings become de-racialized and neutered.

Michael Hames-García, "How Real is Race?," which can be found either in his book, Identity Complex, or in the edited volume Material Feminisms. In this essay Hames-García engages Barad's work on intra-action in order to think about the ontological realities (and limits) of race.

Donna Jones: The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy: Négritude, Vitalism, and Modernity. Jones explores how vitalist discourses, including in Nietzsche and Bergson, were implicated in racism and anti-Semitism. She also explores the way that vitalism continues in thinkers like Deleuze and Grosz. Furthermore, Jones explores the way that Négritude cannot be fully understood outside of the vitalist tradition.

Fred Moten: In The Break: The Aesthetics Of The Black Radical Tradition, and his essay, "The Case of Blackness." I talk briefly about these texts in this post. Moten work, principally aesthetic, speaks of an "animative materiality."

Jasbir Puar: Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, and also her essay, "'I'd Rather Be a Cyborg Than a Goddess: Becoming-Intersectional in Assemblage Theory." In both, Puar uses assemblage theory to try to challenge and extend the concept of intersectionality.

Arun Saldanha: "Reontologising race: the machinic geography of phenotype." Saldanha is interested in understanding race as a material ontology, and as a machinic assemblage.

Okay, what obvious things did I miss? What non-obvious things did I miss, and also need to make sure I read?


I thought about trying determine what counted as new materialist/ontological turn/etc., and if it really dealt with anti-racism. But I decided it was outside of my scope. I will just post the lists suggested from commentators. When lots of suggestions occur for an author, I randomly just chose one, read the comments for more. A lot of these are great suggestions. Also, I highly suggest reading the comments, there are lots of great stuff in there.

Simone Bignall: Postcolonial Agency: Critique and Constructivism;
Bignall and Patton (Eds.): Deleuze and the Postcolonial
Tony Bennett: Pasts Beyond Memory: Evolution, Museums, Colonialism
Helen Verran: "A Postcolonial Moment in Science Studies: Alternative Firing Regimes of Environmental Scientists and Aboriginal Landowners."
Mario Blaser: "Ontology and indigeneity: on the political ontology of heterogeneous assemblages."
Marisol de la Cadena: "Indigenous Cosmopilitics in the Andes: Conceptual Reflections Beyond 'Politics'"
John Law: After Method: Mess in Social Science Research
Eduardo Viveiros de Castro: The Inconstancy of the Indian Soul

Carlos Amador:
Arun Saldanha and Jason Adams (Eds): Deleuze and Race.
Michael Taussig: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing 

Jairus Victor Grove:
Glissant Poetics of Relation
Castro, The Enemy's Point of View
Muecke, Ancient and Modern: Time, Culture and Indigenous Philosophy
João Biehl: Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment
Danny Hoffman's The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Sergio González Rodríguez: The Femicide Machine
Octavia Butler: Bloodchild

Kalpana Rahita Seshadri: HumAnimal: Race, Law, Language.