Entangled Worlds: Religion, Science, and New Materialisms

Entangled Worlds: Religion, Science, and New Materialisms

Entangled Worlds: Religion, Science, and New Materialisms

Entangled Worlds: Religion, Science, and New Materialisms

Synopsis

Historically speaking, theology can be said to operate "materiaphobically." Protestant Christianity in particular has bestowed upon theology a privilege of the soul over the body and belief over practice, in line with the distinction between a disembodied God and the inanimate world "He" created. Like all other human, social, and natural sciences, religious studies imported these theological dualisms into a purportedly secular modernity, mapping them furthermore onto the distinction between a rational, "enlightened" Europe on the one hand and a variously emotional, "primitive," and "animist" non-Europe on the other.

The "new materialisms" currently coursing through cultural, feminist, political, and queer theories seek to displace human privilege by attending to the agency of matter itself. Far from being passive or inert, they show us that matter acts, creates, destroys, and transforms--and, as such, is more of a process than a thing. Entangled Worlds examines the intersections of religion and new and old materialisms. Calling upon an interdisciplinary throng of scholars in science studies, religious studies, and theology, it assembles a multiplicity of experimental perspectives on materiality: What is matter, how does it materialize, and what sorts of worlds are enacted in its varied entanglements with divinity?

While both theology and religious studies have over the past few decades come to prioritize the material contexts and bodily ecologies of more-than-human life, Entangled Worlds sets forth the first multivocal conversation between religious studies, theology, and the body of "the new materialism." Here disciplines and traditions touch, transgress, and contaminate one another across their several carefully specified contexts. And in the responsiveness of this mutual touching of science, religion, philosophy, and theology, the growing complexity of our entanglements takes on a consistent ethical texture of urgency.

Excerpt

It is not just that we are entangled in matter—we subjects who read, write, and ruminate on what “we” are. We are materializations entangled in other materializations; we happen in our mattering. What matters in our ethics, our politics, our worlds entangles us in and as new materializations. and at this juncture, it entangles scholarship in retrievals and rethinkings of matter itself. Even disciplines that struggle with long histories of disembodied transcendence are registering the effects.

The “new materialisms” currently coursing through cultural, feminist, political, and queer theories seek to displace human privilege by attending to the agency of matter itself. Far from being passive or inert, they argue, matter acts, creates, destroys, and transforms—and, thus, is more of a process than a thing. “One could conclude,” write Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, “that ‘matter becomes,’ rather than that matter is.” Calling as they do on the insights of quantum mechanics, general relativity, complexity theory, and nonlinear biology to theorize matter as mattering, these thinkers work against much of what is often denigrated as “mere” materialism. of course, the word will never make a safe slogan. It stimulates the whole modern array of old familiar materialisms, along with the dualist reactions against it, presuming pretty much the same inertly predictable stuff. a different materialism can therefore be introduced only in the company of such a caveat as Jane Bennett’s: “American materialism, which requires buying ever-increasing numbers of products purchased in ever-shorter cycles, is antimateriality.” It junks old stuff so that we will buy buy buy new, and so conceals “the vitality of matter.” Moreover, it destroys it, producing the waste-monsters that are deadening the atmosphere and the oceans.

Taking cues from Whitehead, Deleuze and Guattari, Stengers and Prigo gine, and Margulis and Sagan, the new materialists mobilize a revivified . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.