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Political Matter

Technoscience, Democracy, and Public Life

2010

Bruce Braun and Sarah J. Whatmore, editors

Political Matter

An engaging collection that explores the politics of material objects

Political Matter seeks to develop a fully materialist theory of politics, one that opens new possibilities for imagining the relationship between scientific and political practices. The contributors assert that without such a theory the profusion of complex materials with and through which we live—plastic bags, smart cars, long-life lightbulbs—too often leaves us oscillating between fearful repudiation and glib celebration.

Taking seriously the argument that things have politics, Political Matter seeks to develop a fully materialist theory of politics, one that opens new possibilities for imagining the relationship between scientific and political practices. The contributors assert that without such a theory the profusion of complex materials with and through which we live—plastic bags, smart cars, and long-life lightbulbs, for example—too often leaves us oscillating between fearful repudiation and glib celebration.

Exploring the frictions that come from linking the work of scholars in science and technology studies and political theory, these essays spark new ways of understanding the matter of politics.

Contributors: Andrew Barry, U of Oxford; Jane Bennett, Johns Hopkins U; Stephen J. Collier, New School; William E. Connolly, Johns Hopkins U; Rosalyn Diprose, U of New South Wales; Lisa Disch, U of Michigan; Gay Hawkins, U of New South Wales; Andrew Lakoff, UC San Diego; Noortje Marres, U of London; Isabelle Stengers, U Libre de Bruxelles; Nigel Thrift, U of Warwick.

Political Matter

Bruce Braun is associate professor of geography at the University of Minnesota.

Sarah J. Whatmore is professor of environment and public policy at the University of Oxford.

Political Matter

Contents

Acknowledgements
The Stuff of Politics: An Introduction
Bruce Braun and Sarah Whatmore

Part I. Rematerializing Political Theory: Things Forcing Thought
1. Including Nonhumans in Political Theory: Opening Pandora’s Box?
Isabelle Stengers
2. Thing-Power
Jane Bennett
3. Materiality, Experience, and Surveillance
William E. Connolly

Part II. Technological Politics: Affective Objects and Events
4. Materialist Politics: Metallurgy
Andrew Barry
5. Plastic Materialities
Gay Hawkins
6. Halos: Making More Room in the World for New Political Orders
Nigel Thrift

Part III. Political Technologies: Public (Dis)Orderings
7. Frontstaging Nonhumans: Publicity as a Constraint on the Political Activity of Things
Noortje Marres
8. The Political Technology of RU486: Time for the Body and Democracy
Rosalyn Diprose
9. Infrastructure and Event: The Political Technology of Preparedness
Andrew Lakoff and Stephen J. Collier
10. “Faitiche”-izing the People: What Representative Democracy Might Learn from Science Studies
Lisa Disch

Contributors
Index