Materialist Philosophies Grounded in the Here And Now: Critical New Materialist Constellations & Interventions in Times Of Terror(ism)

Dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz (2019)
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This dissertation, located at the crossroads of Continental political philosophy, feminist theory, critical theory, intellectual history, and cultural studies, provides a critical cartography of contemporary new materialist thought in its various constellations and assemblages, while using diffractive theorizing to examine two Continental terror(ist) events. It is argued that such a critical cartography is not only a novel but also much needed undertaking, as we, more than almost two decades after the Habermas-Derrida dialogues on terror(ism), are in need of a Zeitgeist-adjusted conceptual framework, and, thus, a revitalization of philosophizing as such, that could lead to an analysis of the complex ontological, epistemological, and eco-ethico-political entangled aspects of global crises, and, specifically, terrorist events, the actual terror they produce, and the bio-/necropolitical repercussions they often engender. Using the new materialist methodologies of critical cartography and diffraction, this project’s first part explores what it means to “theorize from the ground up” in a feminist manner, while furthermore offering a situated critical cartography of new materialist thought. Within the contours of this Deleuzoguattarian mapping exercise, new materialist thought is shown to be grounded in foregoing materialist philosophies, transversal and trans(/)disciplinary, and, moreover, a revitalizing ever-evolving philosophical strand of thought with crisscrossing, transcontinental roots and a strong foundation in (post-)Foucauldian poststructuralist thought. Particular attention is paid to what in this project are called “critical” new materialisms, or those new materialist philosophies that take the necessity of critical power analyses seriously, and could be said to be “eco-ethico-political” in nature. This cartography is furthermore accompanied by a digital critical cartography that can be utilized for pedagogical means. The second and final part of this dissertation, preceded by an excursus that accentuates the importance of Harawayan ecophilosophical thought for critical new materialist philosophies, consists of one chapter that puts the idea of diffractive theorizing into practice; subsequently exploring theorizing on terror(ism), the Habermas-Derrida dialogues with regard to 9/11, and the Paris 2015 and Brussels 2016 attacks as affect-inducing events of “feeling-thinking-through.” This chapter ends with a diffractive rereading of Habermas, Derrida, Benjamin, and also partially Levinas, on the subject of the contemporary democratic state, terrorism, and the legitimacy of lockdowns and emergency state declarations. By doing so, this final chapter anticipates on this dissertation’s epilogue, in which the need for an up-to-date critical new materialist eco-ethico-political model of justice and responsiveness-as-response-ability, is highlighted.



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