“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Friday, May 20, 2011

Materials: Objects: Environments Liveblog 5 (Gay Hawkins)

political philosophy
the question Gay asked me; how we might understand the relationship between political processes and materiality
how to account for the force of things in political culture
recognizing the force of things in political processes, a “more than human” politics

listing in OOO; proliferation of things that we need to be worried about

not just how does matter become a human political object, but how do objects have political effectivity
refusing to see it as an exclusive activity
stuff can have a constitutive role in political processes

Hawkins isn’t convinced that OOO knows how to talk about politics well
She prefers Bennett
Isabelle Stengers: matter doesn’t have fixed essence, but is arranged according to relations
(if it’s all relations...then...?)
different relations make present the different qualities of stuff: so that is an OOO point...I’m not sure whether Hawkins is conflicted on this

Latour: even humans don’t speak on their own but always through something or someone else
how to create mechanisms that can mediate this

agency cut loose from human orbit
can’t be designated as an attribute of subjects or objects
intraactivity (Barad, uncited)
politics as a generative process of negotiation as to what counts

plastic bag politics as “mattering” the bag, making the bag ethically animated, then the bag becomes capable of entangling humans in its affectivity

this isn’t about reason but about the bag making us think about emergent causation

plastic bottles changed the way we see water
how does the bottle participate in revealing things about ecology

Brita Water Filter ad:
generating this forum not through normal deliberative politics but by deploying the affective force of the bottle’s thing power
human and nonhuman intermingling, a fleeting, temporary assemblage

Doug: the granting of agency to materials and objects: he’s not sure how to divorce it from commodity fetishism
“granting social relations to what workers produce rather than the workers themselves”
although actually the fetishism is a real agency in the object according to Marx (!)

Answer: forcefields emerge; agency is always distributed, agentic force of an interrelationship...that generates actancy

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