How does the emergence of masses, multitudes, mobs, movements, communities, collectives, bands, or swarms relate to the law? When does flight turn into colonization? What is the situation before the law? What is the camp? How does the people relate to the camp?
Maxim Gorki Theater
Am Festungsgraben 2
Mad Men, Death and the American Dream
Sozialismus des Kapitals
Kerstin Stakemeier (ed.), Susanne Witzgall (ed.)
The new materialists are self-consciously positioning themselves in the wake of an earlier cultural turn towards linguistic modes of cultural analysis that included radical forms of constructivism, but also in response to new challenges and opportunities that are emerging through novel ways of understanding matter and handling objects.
Over the past two or three years there has been much talk in the social and human sciences about a materialist turn. It is clear that this is not, however, a complete revolution back to older forms of materialism, even if some of their traces are still resonant. The new materialists are self-consciously positioning themselves in the wake of an earlier cultural turn towards linguistic modes of cultural analysis that included radical forms of constructivism, but also in response to new challenges and opportunities that are emerging through novel ways of understanding matter and handling objects.
My essay has two main parts. The first provides an overview by considering some of the ways a new materialism is being pursued, the sources from which it draws inspiration and the kind of vocabulary that is being used to invoke volatile process of materialisation. This includes a sketch of the new materialist ontology, with...
I am not a very balanced person. I am fragile and sad – almost as described in Triste Tropiques by Claude Lévi-Strauss. I feel both those adjectives, I grew up with them. I was aware of my fragility even when I was very young – a baby, learning to walk, living somewhere in Africa and already feeling that the number of white persons was very small compared to the number of black persons and also noticing that most of the black persons that I met were gardeners or maids. I felt – I am sure I am not lying – even at that very young age, not a sense of injustice, but a sort of guilt.
Guilt for what? My parents were nice people, they treated everyone well. My father was avidly learning languages, he spoke many African languages and also Pidgin English very well and he used to speak it...
The notion of a solidary swarm is especially interesting with regard to present forms of governmentality.
From Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs in 2003 to Felix Stalder’s concept of Digital Solidarity in 2013, the Internet has inspired and still inspires the dream of new sorts of collectivity, of a potentially free and open space of information and communication that would emancipate and unite the people. These discourses often employ the swarm metaphor, the “ephemeral and apparently ‘grass-roots democratic’ conception of collectivity” that suggests emergent cooperation or solidarity and is therefore also used to point to new emancipatory politics.
The notion of a solidary swarm is especially interesting with regard to present forms of governmentality: On the one hand, it stands for subversive moments within societies of control or biopolitical capitalism, as it can point to new forms of sociality that overcome logics of neoliberal competition. On the other, inspiring swarm behavior is one way of governing in neoliberal capitalism. As the notion of the online swarm and, more...
And is a helpful starting point for identity studies, because it presses us towards openness and suggests identity formations.
As it happens, in relation to questions of fragile identities, I think these are very useful words. One issue that has been confronted in recent discussions of identity has been whether it is singular or plural and if the latter, which is the predominant critical view, what kind of plurality is being evoked by the term? Specifically, are we talking about something that is fragmented or something that is multiple? Is the human subject notionally one, but through exposure to forces of various kinds, ranging from the excessive competing demands of post-modernity through to devastating trauma, it becomes a split subject? Or does the multiplicity of selves and identities (to run the terms together for a moment) reflect the simple reality of life – we are multiple beings, and our task is to do something with this multiplicity, not to wish it gone? It is this position that I would...