Feminist new materialisms : activating ethico-politics through genealogies in social sciences
Revelles Benavente, Beatriz
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The idea to create a Special Issue journal around the topic of feminist new materialisms emerged out of the editors’ collaboration in the frames of European project New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on ‘How Matter Comes to Matter’ (European Cooperation in Science and Technology), and more specifically it was born at the 9th Annual Conference on the New Materialisms, held at Utrecht University in June 2018. The editors were then able to trace the discussions within new materialism, but also on the margins of it, and in dialogues with researchers with different academic backgrounds or coming from other theoretical standpoints. Those dialogues all have different affective modalities, raised various theoretical (counter) arguments, and imagined heterogeneous practices. As editors of this issue of “Social Sciences,” we recognized the need to rethink feminist new materialisms, yet again accentuating and activating its ethico-political dimensions and stakes. We are undertaking this endeavour together with scholars, who have been composing the cartography of feminist new materialist research for some time now (among them: Alaimo and Hekman 2008; Coole and Frost 2010; Dolphijn and van der Tuin 2012; Van der Tuin 2015; Cielem ˛ecka and Rogowska-Stangret 2018), and we aim at grasping specifically its ethico-political practices. For us, new materialisms have always been the entanglement of epistemology, ontology, ethics, and politics. Looking back to the notion of “situated knowledges” by Haraway (1988) who—among others—“planted the seed for feminist new materialism” (Van der Tuin 2015, p. 26)—one sees how those (at least) four planes are entangled (Rogowska-Stangret 2018), in order to bring forth “response-able” (Haraway 2008) research. New materialism is thus an ethico-onto-epistemological framework (Barad 2007; Revelles-Benavente 2018), that by activating its ethico-politics helps to diagnose, infer, and transform gendered, environmental, anthropocentric, and social injustices from a multidimensional angle. Social injustices are a driving motivation to pursue research, and are the reason why the editors and authors of this special issue cannot understand new materialism without feminism (Hinton and Treusch 2015; Ernst 2016). Contemporary feminist researchers are providing new materialisms with a transversal approach (Yuval-Davis 1997) that comes from many different disciplines, without canonizing back again knowledge creation and production, and in hope that they will not enter back into classifixations (Van der Tuin 2015). It is a “situated” (Haraway 1988) research “response-able” (Haraway 2008) to material-discursive practices that iterate in a dynamic conceptualization of matter.
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