The 2013 antipode RGS-IBG lecture: New materialisms and neoliberal natures

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Abstract

The rise of non-deterministic understandings of nature, with their emphasis on intensive difference and non-linear processes, has occurred in conjunction with the neoliberalization of environmental governance, which at once emphasizes and financializes the inherent productivity of nature. This paper accepts the position that there is a link between the two, but argues that if we are to maintain a crucial ontological distinction between capital and non-capital, this link must be understood as contingent rather than necessary. Drawing upon Deleuze and Guattari's concept of "universal history", I argue that the neoliberalization of nature must be understood, in part, as the strategic containment of the critical energies of new materialist thought, and that the role of critical historiography is to recognize within processes of containment the contents and qualities of more radical possibilities. If such critical efforts are to succeed they must continually distinguish between nature's innovative force and the mechanisms that seek to capture this force in the service of capital and state. In turn, if we are to remember the radical potential of these ideas, the neoliberalization of nature must be understood as a response to these critical energies, and not their origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalAntipode
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • Critical historiography
  • Neoliberalism
  • Non-deterministic nature
  • Universal history

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