Monthly Archives: July 2014

Barad on epistemology, ontology, knowing and ontoepistemology


Karen Barad states that,

“Knowing is a distributed practice that includes the larger material arrangement. To the extent that humans participate in scientific or other practices of knowing, they do so as part of the larger material configuration of the world and its ongoing open-ended articulation.” (Barad, 2007: 379)

Barad continues,

“Knowing is a specific engagement of the world where part of the world becomes differentially intelligible to another part of the world in its differential accountability to and for that of which it is a part.” (Barad, 2007: 379)

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Agential realism and physical materialism: Questions


Is agential realism simply an account of the world, i.e. a narrative about the world, using a physical materialist vocabulary?

That is to say, is agential realism performative? If so, what is the character of its ‘doing’, its ‘agency’ or its ‘performativity’? [Note that this is not the same question as ‘What does it do?’]?

Or, in other words, does agential realism simply replace a liberal humanist account of the world with a physical materialist account of the world?

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Repetitiveness, representationalism


As was noted in the blog entry Representationalism: description and depiction, Barad states at the beginning of Chapter Three of Meeting the Universe Halfway, (2007: 97) that representationalism and Newtonian physics have their roots in the 17th century. The passage in questions is as follows:

“Representationalism and Newtonian physics have roots in the seventeenth century. The assumption that language is a transparent medium that transmits a homologous picture of reality to the knowing mind finds its parallel in a scientific theory that takes observation to be the benign facilitator of discovery, a transparent lens passively gazing at the world. Just as words provide descriptions or representations of a preexisting reality, observations reveal preexisting properties of an observation-independent reality. In the twentieth century, both the representational or mimetic status of language and the inconsequentiality of the observational process have been called into question.” (Barad, 2007: 97)

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The reading experience

The key to the bagginess, loopiness, repetitiveness and messiness of Meeting the Universe Halfway may lie in the following:

“Entire chapters and portions of chapters in this book have appeared in earlier versions in the following journals and anthologies:

CHAPTER ONE: Lynn Hankinson Nelson and Jack Nelson, eds., Feminism, Science, and the Philosophy of Science (Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer, 1996), 161-94, and Signs 28, no. 3 (2003): 803-31;

CHAPTER THREE: Lynn Hankinson Nelson and Jack Nelson, eds., Feminism, Science, and the Philosophy of Science (Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer, 1996), 161-94, and Sue V. Rosser, ed., Teaching the Majority (New York: Teacher’s College Press, 1995), 43-75;

CHAPTER FOUR: Signs, no. 3 (2003): 803-31;

CHAPTER FIVE: differences 10, no. 2 (1998): 87-126;

CHAPTER SIX: Marianne DeKoven, ed., Feminist Locations (New Brunswick: Rutgers, 2001), 75-109.”

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New Link

There is a link on the links page to New Materialist Cartographies.

This is a wiki, built using Wikispaces Classrooms, which brings together some of the strands of the many lines of flight of new materalism, and refers also other important varieties of materialism.

Users are strongly encouraged to join and add, correct, or rewrite parts the wiki.

A search for ‘Barad’ in the wiki produces three results:

New glossary entries

There are now glossary entries for diffraction, diffractive methodology and entanglement, as significant terms in the development of Barad’s arguments concerning what she defines as the main problematic of the book, Meeting the Universe Halfway, i.e. “the challenge and necessity of adequately theorising the relationship between discursive practices and the material world”.