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Vibrant Matter

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Theorizes the political agency of things and natural phenomena--such as trash, food, weather, electricity--to examine how non-human elements exert force upon human politics and social relations.

Table of Contents

Preface vii Acknowledgments xxi 1. The Force of Things 1 2. The Agency of Assemblages 20 3. Edible Matter 39 4. A Life of Metal 52 5. Neither Vitalism nor Mechanism 62 6. Stem Cells and the Culture of Life 82 7. Political Ecologies 94 8. Vitality and Self-interest 110 Notes 123 Bibliography 157 Index 171

About the Author

Jane Bennett is Professor of Political Theory and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics and Thoreau's Nature: Ethics, Politics, and the Wild, and an editor of The Politics of Moralizing and In the Nature of Things: Language, Politics, and the Environment.


"Vibrant Matter is a fascinating, lucid, and powerful book of political theory. By focusing on the 'thing-side of affect,' Jane Bennett seeks to broaden and transform our sense of care in relation to the world of humans, non-human life, and things. She calls us to consider a 'parliament of things' in ways that provoke our democratic imaginations and interrupt our anthropocentric hubris."--Romand Coles, author of Beyond Gated Politics: Reflections for the Possibility of Democracy "Vibrant Matter represents the fruits of sustained scholarship of the highest order. As environmental, technological, and biomedical concerns force themselves onto worldly political agendas, the urgency and potency of this analysis must surely inform any rethinking of what political theory is about in the twenty-first century."--Sarah Whatmore, coeditor of The Stuff of Politics: Technoscience, Democracy, and Public Life "This manifesto for a new materialism is an invigorating breath of fresh air. Jane Bennett's eloquent tribute to the vitality and volatility of things is just what we need to revive the humanities and to redraw the parameters of political thought."--Rita Felski, author of Uses of Literature "Vibrant Matter takes us on a journey through the philosophical tradition of critical vitalism - or, in Bennett's terms, vital materialism - in order to help us recognize the profound yet delightful weirdness of being in a body that only seems to belong to us." Los Angeles Review of Books, May 9th 2012

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