COST Action IS1307

New Materialism
Networking European Scholarship on 'How matter comes to matter'

COST Action IS1307 is framed by the following broad research questions:

1 How to account for the metaphysical assumptions underlying our academic frameworks in order to better understand the processes of our knowledge production? How to create spaces in which the specific rules of different academic and non-academic practices of knowledge production can be made visible and thus negotiable?

2 How to generate epistemologies that are equipped to do justice to the crises European (and non-European) societies face in the 21st century? How does a framework which is rigorous enough to be able to address economy and ecology, politics and technology, and the everyday look?

3 How can practices of knowing be reconceptualised and refigured in order to avoid a retrograde assignment of concepts to ‘material things’? (How) should these practices be institutionalised in European universities and among academics, policy makers and other stakeholders in Europe (and beyond)?

With the changing of societies on local, national and international scales owing to economic, ecological, political and technological developments and crises, a reorganized academic landscape can be observed to be emerging. Scholarship strives to become increasingly interdisciplinary in order to grasp and examine the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes. Additionally, academics forge connections with creative and artistic researchers that have a tradition of thinking radically ‘outside the box’ in order to make sense of the world. New or neo-materialism is a constitutive player on this burgeoning scholarly terrain.

New materialist scholars use ‘matter’ as their focal point and searchlight. Zooming in on the matter of ecology, economy, politics, technology and art, these scholars move away from a framework of representation. The latter framework treats research topics from the outside, whereas new materialism demonstrates how scholars (from all disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields) are in fact part of the phenomena that they study (e.g. when a financial crisis hits a country or continent, academia is not left unchanged). The scholars choose to theorize this intertwinement by zooming in on matter, because matter has a peculiar conceptual ambiguity that these scholars find productive.

‘Matter’ signifies the subject matter of research and, more broadly, the material building blocks/forces of reality. It also points at (scholarly) processes of meaning-making (‘to matter’). The innovativeness of new materialist approaches lies in that they provide ways for signification to be simultaneously material and semiotic; the scholarship is ‘material-semiotic’ or ‘material-discursive’ (Haraway 1988, Barad 2007). In order to do justice to the active intervention of materialities into our daily and academic lives, experiences and signifying systems, new materialists ask, not only ‘how discourses come to matter,’ but also ‘how matter comes to matter’ (Barad 2003, 2007).

The materialities on the move and the crises scholars and laypersons, in professional and private lives, face cannot be captured by existing academic frameworks. These frameworks are, especially in the human and social sciences, grounded on linguistic models that assume that researchers assign ‘words’ to ‘worlds’ in a retrograde move. Here, meaning-making is an affair of the mind that happens after the fact of an event in the ecological, socio-cultural or politico-economic sphere. These spheres are traditionally assigned to mono-disciplines from the human, social and natural sciences. But the present developments and crises do not let themselves be confined to disciplinary bounds (economic crashes have often political or ecological origins) or established frameworks (ecological upheavals have their own inventive language, stirring new concepts in journalistic, artistic and philosophical contexts).

New materialist scholarship is both young and burgeoning. A COST Action around new materialism will shape and further how European scholars take up the label of new materialism and work under its umbrella. The fundamental new materialist research is being done, and the resulting methodological restructurings are underway. Networking in order to streamline, and the building of capacity is what the field is in need of right now, and in especially Europe.

Action IS1307 Fact Sheet
Action IS1307 Memorandum of Understanding

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COST Action IS1307 New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on 'How Matter Comes to Matter'.

Here you will find background material, current activities, calls for papers, working group information, and project outputs.

With the changing of societies on local, national and international scales owing to economic, ecological, political and technological developments and crises, a reorganized academic landscape can be observed to be emerging. Scholarship strives to become increasingly interdisciplinary in order to grasp and examine the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes. Additionally, academics forge... Read more or find out Who's Who

Activities

Information relating to activities undertaken, including conferences, training schools, short-term scientific missions, and annual meetings, are archived here.

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Working Groups

Working Groups focus on four key areas of research

Working Group One

Genealogies of New Materialisms; examines and intervenes in canonization processes by compiling a web-based bibliography, coordinating the OST 068/13 8 EN... Read more

Working Group Two

New Materialisms on the Crossroads of the Natural and Human Sciences; seeks to develop new materialisms at the boundaries of the human and natural sciences. The group focuses on how European new materialisms can rework the ‘Two Cultures' gap... Read more

Working Group Three

New Materialisms Embracing the Creative Arts; brings together European researchers, artists, museum professionals, and other activists with a keen interest in the material... Read more

Working Group Four

New Materialisms Tackling Economical and Identity – Political Crises and Organizational Experiments... Read more

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COST Action IS1307

New Materialism —
Networking European Scholarship on 'How matter comes to matter’

COST
An intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology
European Union
COST is supported by the the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020

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