(a) Jane Bennett (2010: xiii) claims that she pursues,
“a materialism in the tradition of Democritus-Epicurus-Spinoza-Diderot-Deleuze more than Hegel-Marx-Adorno.”
(b) In a review article in Feminist Studies, Myra J. Hird (2009) discusses two distinct traditions of thought divided by the phrase “material feminism”. She focuses on an emerging field of study which can be distinguished from a more familiar “material feminism”. The more familiar field focuses on women’s material living and working conditions, which are structured through class, race, ethnicity, age, ableism, heteronormativity, and so on.
In Barad’s ‘universe’, and why is this not a polyverse, a poly(morphous per)verse, where is the ‘dirt’, in Mary Douglas’s sense of “matter out of place”?
In Barad’s ‘world’, and what kind of concept is this, is matter always in its place in its universe, even if that universe is not stable?
Is Barad’s position, then, an example of ‘new materialist scholarship’? Such scholarship, according to Lemke (2014: 2),
“shares the conviction that the ‘linguistic turn’ or primarily textual accounts are insufficient for an adequate understanding of the complex and dynamic interplay of meaning and matter”
However, does such new materialist scholarship, itself part of a ‘performative turn’, if we may use such phrases, take sufficient account of the materiality and ‘performativity’ of language itself in providing its accounts. In any case, are these ‘accounts’ not ‘narratives’ of some kind, explanatory narratives, of the complex and dynamic interplay of meaning and matter?
To counterpose ‘new materialist scholarship’ and prior ‘discursivist’ scholarship in this way may be to fail to recognise their inter-relationships as accounts of ‘practice’, itself potentially the topic of a further ‘turn’.
Such a counterposing might be taken to suggest a trivial grasp of the role of language, both as material phenomenon and phenomenon through which material reality is understood and acted upon, in part through the way it acts, materially, to co-ordinate human collective action.
Lemke, T. (2014). New materialisms: Foucault and the “government of things.” Theory, Culture & Society, (April), pp.1–33. Available at: http://tcs.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/0263276413519340 [Accessed April 8, 2014].