New Materialism

Short Summary
New Materialism is a category of theories that were generated as a response to the linguistic turn. Infused with commitments to specific knowledge-becoming practices and a history linked to feminisms, new materialism attempts to offer a different perspective to signification, materiality, and methodologies of crafting knowledge.

Knowledge-becoming practices refers to the way that new materialists think about things in the world and what we know about them. Historically, with theories attached to Enlightenment, ontology (what is in the world) and epistemology (what we know about what is in the world) were considered to be separate and not affecting one another. What new materialists point out is that what is in the world and what we know about things in the world cannot be considered as different things. What is in the world and what we know about things in the world are constantly shaping one another. While poststructuralists explain that words are fluid (focusing on language), new materialists point out that materiality too is not stable.

When describing the term new materialisms in their forthcoming book, New Materialism, Iris van der Tuin and Rick Dolphijn explain,

“New materialism is then “new”in the sense that it is an attempt to ‘leap into the future without adequate preparation in the present, through becoming, a movement of becoming-more and becoming-other, which involves the orientation to the creation of the new, to an unknown future, what is no longer recognizable in terms of the present.' In art this analysis could be the study of matter and meaning" (7).

Similar to poststructuralism new materialism considers the future as open to countless possibilities that promise no salvation.

Affirmation over criticism

Key Terms, Concepts, Ideas
Ontogenesis, generative ontology
Sexual differing
monismimmanence material-semioticnatureculture

Iris van der Tuin, Rick Dolphijn,

Authors Drawn on


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