Environmental Humanities and New Materialisms: The Ethics of Decolonizing Nature and Culture
Keynote speakers: Sandra Regina Goulart Almeida (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht University), Bruno Latour (SciencesPo), Angela Mitropoulos (University of Western Sydney), Iris van der Tuin (Utrecht University)
7 - 9th June, 2017
Organized by: New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on ‘How Matter Comes to Matter’, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), Action IS1307
In association with Ladyss - Laboratoire Dynamiques sociales et recomposition des espaces, and UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
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COST meetings located at:
University Paris Diderot
8 Place Paul Ricoeur
7 Place de Fontenoy
Text from original call for papers:
We are immersed in matter, invaded by streams of living and technological subjects. Our bodies are exchanged, extended and interconnected in myriad different ways. The New Materialisms investigate the incessant materialization of the world. Matter is not a stable substance, neither localizable nor identifiable through clearly defined boundaries. Within both human and nonhuman environments, social and biological ontologies, everything exists in a constant state of change and materialization. The New Materialisms offer an alternative literacy with which to address the task proposed by the political consideration of the relations of difference, as well as those of divides. In the specific terms of feminist scholarship, this literacy has emerged as a “quantum literacy”, offering a significant turn for critical and creative discourses. Yet quantum literacy also possesses relevance beyond feminist theory, as a tool for all of those who are interested in conceiving more adequate terms for expressing knowledge production and the ethical terms of life and nature itself (Bühlmann, Colman & Van Der Tuin, 2016). The political agenda of this literacy offers a number of strategies for the conceptualization of entities and events (for example, migration and refuge; border control and actions of militarism; climate change and ecology), and for wider knowledge production across the sciences and humanities. As such, the New Materialist turn and its provocations coalesce as part of a paradigmatic shift currently occurring in the environmental humanities, and media and technology studies – across the humanities and the sciences – some of which are articulated under the concepts explored in post-capitalist, post-humanist, and post- colonial positions.
Environmental Humanities and New Materialisms share an ethic of decolonizing nature and culture, as they depart from anthropocentric and constructivist positions. Our call is to consider ourselves as permeable, part of the ebb and flow of the Anthropocene, part of the “stuff of the world” (Alaimo, 2016). It is a call to investigate how climate change and the sixth great extinction are captured as scientific data, and to inhabit an environmentally ethical sense of matter within a world caught in the throes of change. New Materialist concepts of living matter upset conventional distinctions between matter and life, inorganic and organic, passive object and active subject (DeLanda, 2000). In Barad’s “agential realism” (2007), material agency does not privilege the human, just as for Bennett, “thing power” (2004) emphasizes the shared material basis and the kinship of all things, regardless of their status – human, animal, vegetable, or mineral. It is through this sense of mutual implication that the New Materialisms can contribute to an ecological ethos. Our call is to consider the New Materialisms as an opportunity to enrich pre-existing conjunctions across environmental philosophy, environmental history, ecocriticism, cultural geography, cultural anthropology, and political ecology, including their debates as captured by the environmental humanities. These fruitful alliances could help build environmental posthumanities, as environmental humanists, activists and stewards work to reveal and reshape the flows of material agencies across regions, environments, animal and human bodies.
The conference Environmental Humanities and New Materialisms: The Ethics of Decolonizing Nature and Culture wants to tap into as well as contribute to such debates.
The intention of the conference is to focus on the following broadly formulated topics and questions:
Decoloniality and Environmental Ethics
• How does decolonial theory and practice contribute to and reposition the New Materialisms as well as the Environmental Humanities? How does the emergence of the “other” in postmodernity and neo materialisms, differing in terms of gender, race or non-humanity reconfigure environmental humanities?
• As peripheries and margins restructure in counter-subjectivities and cores nomadize and deterritorialize, what does ‘autonomy’ mean in axiomatically agential worlds? How does autonomy refer to the ability to perpetuate the material agency of systems and institutions, impacting work, gender, race, or life? What are the links between the production of autonomy, the material-semiotic conditions of life, and political choices?
The Environmental Ethics of Feminism, Work and Social Movements
• (Eco)feminism and commoning are theories and practices interested in investigating the political dimension of autonomy. Paradoxically, only separate entities can be authentically interconnected, and only the interconnected can experience isolation and precariousness. How are old and new emancipatory forms gendered, themselves impacting the nature of matter?
• What are the relations of difference and divides playing out in relation to old and new material conditions of work? How can we open up to, and generate, new working collectives and co-working?
• What kind of gender issues are brought up by the question of autonomy and how does it relate to environmental materiality?
• As a critical and creative scholarly form, quantum literacy inspires us to ask: what are the generative intersections between, for example, academic research, artistic research, action research, and practice-related research regarding life and matter, nature and culture?
• How can we address these questions, taking into account the multiple processes of material-discursive production, translation, transformation, and diffraction?
• What are the relationships between environmental aesthetics and the New Materialisms? Are these two movements able to support one another and what can we derive from their entanglements?
• As New Materialists affirm that beyond the human, matter feels, converses, suffers, desires, yearns, and remembers (Barad, 2007), how does that claim reconfigure environmental aesthetics?
• Finally, we would like to investigate what kind of knowledge the autonomy of aesthesis is able to produce, and what such knowledge assumes and affords for our scholarship, politically, conceptually, and agentially. How does environmental aesthetics, including urban aesthetics, renew the concept of materiality?
COST Action IS1307 New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on 'How Matter Comes to Matter'.
Here you will find background material, current activities, calls for papers, working group information, and project outputs.
With the changing of societies on local, national and international scales owing to economic, ecological, political and technological developments and crises, a reorganized academic landscape can be observed to be emerging. Scholarship strives to become increasingly interdisciplinary in order to grasp and examine the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes. Additionally, academics forge... Read more or find out Who's Who
Information relating to activities undertaken, including conferences, training schools, short-term scientific missions, and annual meetings, are archived here.
Working Groups focus on four key areas of research
Working Group One
Genealogies of New Materialisms; examines and intervenes in canonization processes by compiling a web-based bibliography, coordinating the OST 068/13 8 EN... Read more
Working Group Two
New Materialisms on the Crossroads of the Natural and Human Sciences; seeks to develop new materialisms at the boundaries of the human and natural sciences. The group focuses on how European new materialisms can rework the ‘Two Cultures' gap... Read more
Working Group Three
New Materialisms Embracing the Creative Arts; brings together European researchers, artists, museum professionals, and other activists with a keen interest in the material... Read more
Working Group Four
New Materialisms Tackling Economical and Identity – Political Crises and Organizational Experiments... Read more
The Almanac comprises contributions from members of working groups, and participants in related activities, delineating key terms, more esoteric neologisms, and short provocations. Read more
New Materialism —
Networking European Scholarship on 'How matter comes to matter’
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