Diana Coole & Samantha Frost
Introducing the New Materialisms
As human beings we inhabit an ineluctably material
world. We live our everyday lives surrounded by, im-
mersed in, matter. We are ourselves composed of matter.
We experience its restlessness and intransigence even as
we reconfigure and consume it. At every turn we encoun-
ter physical objects fashioned by human design and en-
dure natural forces whose imperatives structure our daily
routines for survival. Our existence depends from one
moment to the next on myriad micro-organisms and di-
verse higher species, on our own hazily understood bodily
and cellular reactions and on pitiless cosmic motions, on
the material artifacts and natural stu√ that populate our
environment, as well as on socioeconomic structures that
produce and reproduce the conditions of our everyday
lives. In light of this massive materiality, how could we be
anything other than materialist? How could we ignore the
power of matter and the ways it materializes in our ordi-
nary experiences or fail to acknowledge the primacy of
matter in our theories?
Yet for the most part we take such materiality for
granted, or we assume that there is little of interest to
say about it. Even (or perhaps, especially) in the history
of philosophy, materialism has remained a sporadic and
often marginal approach. For there is an apparent paradox
in thinking about matter: as soon as we do so, we seem to
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