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Vibrant Matter: a Political Ecology of Things (10 Edition)


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Vibrant Matter the political theorist Jane Bennett, renowned for her work on nature, ethics, and affect, shifts her focus from the human experience of things to things themselves. Bennett argues that political theory needs to do a better job of recognizing the active participation of nonhuman forces in events. Toward that end, she theorizes a “vital materiality” that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman. Bennett explores how political analyses of public events might change were we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as the effect of ad hoc configurations of human and nonhuman forces. She suggests that recognizing that agency is distributed this way, and is not solely the province of humans, might spur the cultivation of a more responsible, ecologically sound politics: a politics less devoted to blaming and condemning individuals than to discerning the web of forces affecting situations and events.

Bennett examines the political and theoretical implications of vital materialism through extended discussions of commonplace things and physical phenomena including stem cells, fish oils, electricity, metal, and trash. She reflects on the vital power of material formations such as landfills, which generate lively streams of chemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can transform brain chemistry and mood. Along the way, she engages with the concepts and claims of Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Darwin, Adorno, and Deleuze, disclosing a long history of thinking about vibrant matter in Western philosophy, including attempts by Kant, Bergson, and the embryologist Hans Driesch to name the “vital force” inherent in material forms. Bennett concludes by sketching the contours of a “green materialist” ecophilosophy.


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

About the Author

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

Product Details

Bennett, Jane
Duke University Press
Human ecology -- Philosophy.
Human ecology -- Political aspects.
Human Geography
History & Theory - General
Politics - General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
John Hope Franklin Center Books
Publication Date:
9 x 5.88 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Ecology
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment

Vibrant Matter: a Political Ecology of Things (10 Edition) New Trade Paper
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Product details 200 pages Duke University Press - English 9780822346333 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Theorizes the political agency of things and natural phenomena—such as trash, food, weather, and electricity—to examine how non-human elements exert force on human politics and social relations.
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