Using unlikely bedfellows to refigure practice: are theories being used pedagogically?

Year: 2016

Author: Knight, Linda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

I look at the recent rise in interest in ‘post’ theories and how the works of particular theorists are being collectively adopted by contemporary scholars. Specifically I focus on the take up of Deleuze/Deleuze & Guattari, Barad, and Haraway and the interesting tensions that can occur when deleuzeguattarian theories and 'feminist materialisms’ (van der Tuin, 2011) are placed in close proximity theoretically, analytically (and often, misguidedly, methodologically). I focus on examples of contemporary arts that address three concepts (Materialities; Stratas; Representations), which have significant presence in the writings of Deleuze/Deleuze & Guattari, Barad, and Haraway to explore how ‘post’ theories impact on contemporary cultural practices and conceptualisations. Artists aren’t the only ones using such theories; the huge groundswell of education and other scholars weaving Deleuze/Deleuze & Guattari, Barad, and Haraway into their work captures an intellectual shift into thinking more critically about constructions, scales and the other-than. Materialities, strata, and representation are conceptualised quite differently by Deleuze/Deleuze & Guattari, Barad, and Haraway yet often, little attention is paid to these differences. A key question, then, is to ask whether ‘post’ theories are being taken up pedagogically or theoretically? Does a shift towards using theories become a pedagogic rather than a philosophic exercise? I am not concerned with passing judgments on the finesse of the deleuzeguattarian, new/materialist intertwinings by scholars and artists. I am interested to examine the spaces and differences between concepts of materialities, stratas, and representations and the tensions generated by using these particular clusters of concepts produced by unlikely, philosophic bedfellows. I take a feminist perspective: not to align with theories but to consider whether the take up of theories is affected by particular ‘forces' (through gender for example) as well as other factors. Reference: van der Tuin, I. (2011) Review essay: 'New feminist materialisms’. Women’s Studies International Forum, vol 34, 271-277. doi: 10.1016/j.wsif.2011.04.002