Monday, January 17, 2011

New Materialisms

This is one of those things that is probably unsurprising to others, but was something of an "aha" moment for me. And that is this:I tend to see my research and writing interests as somewhat eclectic. There are definite themes (technology on the one hand, globalization and culture on the other), but little in the way of overarching unity. Anyway, I've been included in two collective projects on materiality, one by Jeremy Packer and Steve Wiley out of North Carolina on materiality and communication, where I'm talking about assemblages of attention, and another on materialities of new mobile media, through Andrew Herman, Thom Swiss, and Jan Hadlaw, based on a workshop that will take place next week in Waterloo, Ontario. So I've been reading up on the new materialist turn. Looking through the introduction to Diana Coole and Samatha Frost's new collection, New Materialisms (2010, Duke), I was struck with how wide an umbrella they're setting up for the materialist turn, bringing in interest in sociologies of the everyday (Lefebvre, de Certeau), the phenomenology of the ordinary, critical geographies of space, etc. (p. 28). And I started realizing that this new materialism could be the connecting thread that runs through all my projects, a common perspective on all this stuff. Deleuze (naturally), studies of technology (from a decidedly materialist/Deleuzian perspective), studies of everyday life, the critical geography work I draw on for my book on cultural globalization, current interests in embodied cognition. Especially when I could articulate the cultural globalization book to the culture and technology one (since the former has little on technology), I found that of interest.

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