Why the Turn to Matter Matters: A Response to Post-Marxist Critiques of New Materialism

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Theories of new materialism have gained increasing traction in the social and human sciences in recent decades, as thinkers like Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, and Jane Bennett have reinvigorated the philosophical interest in topics such as the agency of nonhuman matter, the relational nature of existence, and the limitations of anthropocentric forms of inquiry. However, these theories have faced criticism from post-Marxist critical theorists, who argue that theories of new materialism blunt social and capitalist critique and promote obscurity by flattening the world to a single ontological plane. In this article, I argue that these critiques rely on mischaracterizations of new materialist scholarship and that theories of new materialism can in fact help us re-examine – not reject, as their critics suggest – the role of critique, responsibility, and human politics in the context of the Anthropocene and its unfolding ecological crises.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThesis Eleven
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)56-71
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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