Power and the Non-Human
The main theme of the third year was “Power and the Non-Human.” We took our cues, among other sources, from the rich discussion of the New York city blackout of 1977 in Jane Bennett, the quasi-novelization of the Cuban history of tobacco and sugar in Fernando Ortiz, and the multifarious elucidations of the technosocial in Bruno Latour. Rather than thinking of politics as an exclusively human phenomenon, as if the social order were not also maintained by nonhuman actants, we will engage with materiality both in its cultural representation and as a condition of possibility for research in the humanities. The events of the year all tackled this problem, from different angles.
materia has established a discursive space on campus for sustained intellectual exchange across departments. Our regular participants come from ILAC and Comp Lit (the pillars of the group), as well as from English, MTL, German, Anthropology, and Music. Faculty, graduate students, visiting scholars, and undergraduates are among them; the more numerously represented group is grads. Our Latin Americanist-centered, inclusive approach has proven felicitous: a combination of theory, fiction, and other cultural products from the region and from elsewhere enriches our reflections. One aspect to highlight is the integration of preparatory readings into our proceedings. Either as background for talks and discussion or as the main conversation topic, they provide continuity and build-up across our meetings.
Oct 2: Readings: Lamborghini’s Tadeys, Vieira’s “Sermão de Santo António aos Peixes,” and Eagleton’s Materialism (excerpts).
Nov 13, with the Environmental Humanities Project: Orlando Bentancor, Barnard College and Laurie Palmer, UC Santa Cruz
Jan 22: Zac Zimmer, UC Santa Cruz and Monica VanBladel, Stanford University
Feb 26: Marisol de la Cadena, UC Davis
Apr 16: Chloe Rutter-Jensen, Universidad de los Andes and Patricia Valderrama, Stanford University
May 14: Bill Brown, University of Chicago
PIGOTT HALL (BLDG. 260), RM. 216