New materialism and the wisdom of the rock
in The ecological eye
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Much anarchist and social ecologist writing argues for a degree of connectedness between other animal life and insensate bodies and materials on earth. In this vein, a new strand of nonhierarchical, vitalist political ontology, termed ‘new materialism’, takes mutualism and ethics more radically beyond the human. This chapter looks briefly at prehistories, within vitalist traditions, before turning to recent contributions to this dynamic field such as by Barad, Bennett, Grosz and in the anthology by Coole and Frost, New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics (2010) among many others. New materialism seeks to take politics and philosophy to new levels of nonhierarchical awareness. This chapter argues for its potential (along with its variants) within the history of art, given new materialism’s apparent productive encounters within other humanities disciplines. The perhaps surprising conclusion for art history, as a discipline dominated by hierarchies, markets, monetisation and value systems, is that this is an intellectual trajectory that art historians should positively engage with and make their own contributions.

The ecological eye

Assembling an ecocritical art history

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