What's the matter with discourse? : An alternative reading of Karen Barad's philosophy

Abstract

The theoretical movement known under the heading of posthumanism has entered the academic field. Posthumanisms most prominent feature is to retrieve the concept of matter into the analytical framework. Matter is understood to be under-theorized within the social sciences as a result of the permeative focus upon language and discourse. A prevailing understanding of posthumanism that has been used within educational science and philosophy thus consists of moving the searchlight from language/discourse onto matter. Notably, these scholars are turning to the philosopher Karen Barad in order to spell out their posthumanistic implications. The aim of the thesis is to give an account of the philosophy of Karen Barad in contrast to other prevailing renderings of her. The analysis is carried out using a contrastive methodological approach. In this study I demonstrate how my reading of Barad differs from the scholarly readings that I choose to engage with. The results show that with an alternative conceptual understanding of Barad’s posthumanistic theory the analysis is being steered towards the entanglement of matter and discourse rather than towards the materialistic components of a posed problem. In addition, the results also show how a focus on the ontological underpinnings of Barad’s theoretical framework can give crucial contributions when it comes to understanding the generative conditions of science and knowledge-making.

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