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

Rekret, P. 2018. The Head, The Hand, and Matter: New Materialism and the Politics of Knowledge. Theory, Culture & Society. 35 (7-8), pp. 49-72. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276418806369

TitleThe Head, The Hand, and Matter: New Materialism and the Politics of Knowledge
TypeJournal article
AuthorsRekret, P.
Abstract

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.

JournalTheory, Culture & Society
Journal citation35 (7-8), pp. 49-72
ISSN0263-2764
1460-3616
Year2018
PublisherSage
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276418806369
Publication dates
Published22 Nov 2018

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