New Materialism and Enduring Concerns

“In the early 21st century quite a few social scientists and scholars in the humanities are arguing that we should pay more attention to things material. For, as they say, not only humans act but so, too, do materials. Joining this discussion, in this paper we will use the case of omega-3 fatty acids to address the questions of how materials may act; in which ways this is relevant; and what is linked up with it. Hence, we will come to speak about research in prisons where inmates were badly nourished; fish being caught in the Global South for Scandinavian fish pills; and the urgency of shifting from the verb ‘to act’ to a differentiated list of modes of doing. Learning from the natural sciences, we will argue, requires that their methods and concerns be carefully attended to. Taking matters seriously comes with the obligation of tracing where such matters come from and where they go. And talking about ‘action’, finally, demands that, beyond liberal notions of isolated individual actors, it be creatively retheorised.”

6 responses to “New Materialism and Enduring Concerns

  1. Very excellent post and recognize 2/3 names as among the usual suspects for this type of article. Forwarded the link to someone immersed in statistical studies who is obsessed with extracting meaning from arcana. I have issues with both the STS conclusions here and the assumptions of the researchers of these types of underlying studies who take pains to engage in preemptive self flagellation as to assumptions and causes for variance. Some studies are so idiotic that the point seems to be to reach no conclusion except to recommend a further study and NiH grant.

    So this was very worthy article. Loved the bit about replacing the human concerns with material concerns. At the same time, the writers seem to be enlightened sociologists, STS is after all a sub discipline of sociology. I also point out that these control group studies, the highest rated is double blind, are also possible to criticize in various ways using only purely analytical philosophy, the materialism be damned.

    Jane Bennet and her dead rat would agree. Maybe he died of malnutrition and not an Omega-3 deficiency. We can not conclude as to either cause of death.

    • it’s a lovely example of Mol’s line of work, sadly this poignant call for careful attention to everyday, even banal, specificities will be as impotent as Isabelle Stengers’ plea for slow sciences…

  2. there is a certain tristesse concerning stenger’s work which you tap into here. one tends to agree as to surface tension but izzy seems more influential on a deeper structural level than your comment would indicate and instant deadline manufactured knowledge may be a segmented part of research. there are projects which will take 100 generations, such as fighting it out over a reshaped germline so we all look and talk like elon musk and allocate diminishing resources, they just have not been budgeted as yet

    still kudos to mol and bertoni

    so everyone on this site is h/c skate trash grown up?

    • don’t know what on a deeper structural level could mean here in relation to IS but if ya have a concrete example to share of a large-scale slowing of science/engineering for the sake of the biosphere that be most welcome, otherwise I’m afraid yer just proving my point in relation to the Mol&Co. piece.
      just me as far as i know.

  3. well this is what the OTG people such as Derek Jensen and all the troglos are doing. It aggregates to a large scale. Even within conventional Sci Eng one might classify such ‘passive’ hybrid geo projects as evaporative co-generation, tidal nets and slow methane capture from refuse fields of biochar as such. This is all for the biosphere as cost is configured base upon future scarcity. Stiegler would not agree but Virilio might. The ultimate answer is to ‘slow’ time not projects within a given construct of time. Are you saying we have passed peak Stengers?

    • morning JM, none of that speaks to the concerns of Stengers or her cohort, so what
      I’m saying that Isabelle (who I admire greatly as writer) has had no significant impact on the anthropobscene powers that be just as Mol and Co. will have no real impact on people producing merely academicish rhetoric but feeling like they are somehow shifting the tides. might be like the role of film and music critics these days, producing works of minor literature for a fringe few, I’m very grateful for such aesthetic pleasures/oases, and share them here as I find them, but let’s be clear that they are toothless in the political realm, lions roaring against the enraging desert if you will.

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