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Truman, Sarah. E. (2019). Feminist New materialisms. In: Atkinson, P.A., Delamont, S., Hardy, M.A. and Williams, M. (eds.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Research Methods. London, UK: Sage.



Feminist new materialisms are a porous field influenced by feminist science and technology studies, the environmental humanities, the thought of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, transgender and queer studies, and affect studies. In qualitative research, the feminist new materialisms are often linked to discussions of the posthuman, object-oriented ontology, and the ontological or vital materialist turn. As these theoretical turns are activated in qualitative research, they in turn upset classical notions of positivism, directly implicate researchers in the research process, attune researchers' attention to more-than-human agents, challenge representationalism, and recognize that thinking-with theoretical concepts is also 'empirical' research. This entry sketches a brief genealogy of feminist new materialisms’ main themes and thinkers; unpacks some key feminist new materialist concepts that have been mobilized in qualitative research methodologies; and attends to some important critiques within the field concerning Whiteness, humanism, and flattened ontologies. The entry concludes with a practical and conceptual “check list” of feminist new materialist questions to ask when conducting qualitative research.
Feminist New Materialisms
Other Entries
SAGE Research Methods Foundations
By: Sarah E. Truman
Length: 5,000 Words
Methods: Feminist New Materialisms
Online ISBN: 9781526421036
Disciplines: Anthropology, Communication and Media Studies, Education, Sociology
Access Date: October 1, 2019
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications Ltd
City: London
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Feminist new materialisms are a porous field influenced by feminist science and technology studies, the
environmental humanities, the thought of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, transgender and queer studies,
and affect studies. In qualitative research, the feminist new materialisms are often linked to discussions of
the posthuman, object-oriented ontology, and the ontological or vital materialist turn. As these theoretical
turns are activated in qualitative research, they in turn upset classical notions of positivism, directly implicate
researchers in the research process, attune researchers’ attention to more-than-human agents, challenge
representationalism, and recognize that thinking-with theoretical concepts is also “empirical” research.
While feminist new materialisms sound like they are a subset of what commonly circulates as the “new
materialisms” (minus the feminism), new materialisms without feminism—a feminism that attends to race,
gender, sexuality, and ability—can recentre both humanism and Whiteness. There is nothing “new” about
recentering humanism or Whiteness. Humanism refers to a particular White cis-heteronormative masculine
version of the human, or the Vitruvian Man that Rosi Braidotti draws attention to in her book The Posthuman.
This version of the human, or what Sylvia Wynter calls Man, is upheld and enforced through White supremacy,
colonialism, racism, slavery, neoliberalism, and patriarchy.
New materialist theories inspire qualitative researchers to engage in speculative thought and concepts
rooted in fields as diverse as physics, advances in the life sciences, gender and cultural studies, and the
environmental humanities, toward an understanding of a more-than-human agencies. While drawing from
and being inspired by these diverse fields, it is crucial to remain situated as feminists, and responsibly “in
touch with the materiality of intra-human political struggles around race, gender, class, sexuality and ability”
(Snaza, Sonu, Truman, & Zaliwska, 2016, p. xviii). This entry sketches a brief genealogy of feminist new
materialisms’ main themes and thinkers; unpacks some key feminist new materialist concepts that have
been mobilized in qualitative research methodologies; and attends to some important critiques within the
field concerning Whiteness, humanism, and flattened ontologies. The entry concludes with a practical and
conceptual “checklist” of feminist new materialist questions to ask when conducting qualitative research.
New Materialisms Broadly
One of the first things people ask when they hear the term new materialisms is “what are the old
materialisms?” Sometimes the term materialist is used to described a person or culture preoccupied by
material gain. More frequently in academic circles the term materialism is linked to psychoanalysis or
mobilized as a Marxist mode of analysis that views history, culture, and politics as ongoing material struggles
rather than reified ideologies; these “old” versions of materialism ground phenomena in human action
and social construction. The “new” in the new materialisms demonstrates a different starting point than
these historical understandings of materialism and foregrounds the liveliness of matter as a starting point
for discussion. These old and new versions of materialism are not opposed to each other, and many
scholars agree that researchers need to attend to the more-than-human and the liveliness of matter without
abandoning attention to subject formation, speculation, and mass political organizing.
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The development of the new materialisms is not a straight line; many scholars and thinkers who are called
“new materialists” or “feminist new materialists” might not consider themselves as such. The new materialisms
are heterogenous (hence, the plural form of materialisms). Scholars of the new materialisms think more-
than-anthropocentrically and attend to scales—atomic, or extended temporalities—that can offer different
perspectives on matter, materiality, and humans’ and nonhumans’ place in the world. The new materialisms’
inheritances can be drawn together using (but not limited to) the following entangled threads: feminist science
studies (e.g., Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, Natasha Myers, Kim TallBear), environmental humanities (e.g.,
Stacy Alaimo, Jeffery Cohen, Astrida Neimanis), gender and cultural studies (e.g., Mel Chen, Jasbir Puar,
Iris van der Tuin), social geography and anthropology (e.g., Kathryn Yusoff, Elizabeth Povinelli), affect
theory (e.g., Brian Massumi, Kathleen Stewart, Patricia Clough), and more recently qualitative research
methodologies in education (e.g., Elizabeth de Freitas, Lisa A. Mazzei, Emma Renold, Jessica Ringrose,
Stephanie Springgay, Elizabeth A. St. Pierre). What brings these diverse and disparate fields together through
feminist new materialisms is an attention to the relationship between nature and culture, turn(s) to matter,
distributive agency and privileging relations, prioritizing affect, and a movement away from the linguistic turn
and representationalism. These entangled threads disrupt common orientations to research methodology and
decenter humanism in a variety of ways.
Relationship Between Nature and Culture
The new materialisms challenge those in the social sciences and humanities to become literate in the
physical, technical, and life sciences and rethink binaries between nature and culture. Much feminist new
materialist scholarship is rooted in empirical and speculative research in these fields, utilizing concepts
as broad as Barad’s uptake of quantum physics, Haraway’s naturecultures, Myers’s involution, TallBear’s
pipestone, Katherine Hayles’s technogenesis, Michelle Murphy’s technoscience, and Bruno Latour’s
actor–network theory. Feminist new materialisms have also impacted and emerged from environmental
humanities, and gender and cultural studies including the work of van der Tuin on how gender comes
to matter, Alaimo’s transcorporeality, Jane Bennett’s vitality, Neimanis’s weathering, Cohen’s lithic
ecomateriality, Chen’s animacies, Puar’s debility, Povenilli’s geontology, Yusoff’s Black Anthropocene, and
Eva Hayward’s tranimal. These diverse theories bring different scales to bear on sociocultural research,
including qualitative methodologies, and invoke discussions of biopolitics, geopolitics, and globalism on one
hand and microscopic or quantum politics on the other.
Turns to Matter
Humanism has long upheld Cartesian binaries between humans and nonhuman animals, and humans and
seemingly inanimate matter. In this view, humans are endowed with agency and the capacity to act, whereas
nonhuman animals and things like plants or rocks are passive or inert. In a turn to matter, and a recognition
of the power of things, new materialist scholars recognize “vitality” across all kinds of matter and a capacity
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for agency (or even thought) within all kinds of matter including nonhuman animals, bacteria and toxins, as
well as immaterial “materials” such as thoughts, theories, and the relationships between things. Jane Bennett
argues that vitality is intrinsic to matter. This vitality is what scholars informed by the work of Deleuze and
Guattari would call immanent in that it exists within matter and the relations between things rather than being
bestowed from outside. The ways in which this vital matter exerts agency is differentiated and emergent.
Diana Coole and Samantha Frost (2010) write that materiality “is always more than ‘mere’ matter: an excess,
force, vitality, relationality, or difference that renders matter active, self-creative, productive, unpredictable”
(p. 9). These vitalist understandings of matter and the distributive nature of agency call up questions about
causality, the nature of being, how phenomena interact and are produced, and responsibility: If agency and
vitality are not restricted to humans but rather attributes of all matter, then the politics of collaboration and
research ethics needs to be rethought.
Distributive Agency and Privileging Relations
Assemblages, rhizomes, intra-active entanglements, networks, and webs of interrelations are all terms and
concepts affiliated with the new materialisms. These concepts are not interchangeable but do have in
common an attention to relationality among “parts,” distributed agency, and decentering of the human as
agent. In recent years, Barad’s (2007) conceptualizations of entanglement and intra-action have become
almost synonymous with the new materialisms. Barad’s neologism intra-action signifies the mutual
constitution of entangled agencies(p. 33, italics in original). She explains that, rather than the term interaction
(which suggests ontologically distinct individual agencies preceding interaction), phenomena are produced
through intra-actions (specific material configurations of human, nonhuman, animal, material that do not
preexist their relations). To unpack this, Barad draws on the theory of indeterminacy in physics. As an
example of an indeterminate state, Barad demonstrates that the momentum and location of a particle cannot
be known simultaneously. Once the momentum or the location of a particle is known (or observed), the
indeterminate state collapses and specific phenomena is produced or cut agentially from the ontological
indeterminacy. As such, a viewer/knower is part of the measuring apparatus (implicated in and entangled
with the intra-acting phenomena that is observed, or cut agentially). This feeds into Barad’s larger process
of agential realism, whereby agency is distributed across relations and bodies, and consequently not solely
a human possession. Because in agential realism, relata do not precede their relations but are produced
through intra-actions it becomes a way of “understanding the world from within and as part of it” (Barad,
2007, p. 88). What this means for research is that the researcher is part of the apparatus that produces the
phenomena or event; they are entangled in the research events they create. And concepts themselves are
also intra-active cuts; they are material and are thus part of phenomena. As such, researchers have to take
response-ability for the concepts with which they work. This collapse between researched and researcher
and concepts and has many implications for qualitative research methodologies and forces researchers to
reconsider the theory/praxis and ontological (being)/epistemological (knowing) splits, how data come to be
and are collected and analysed, and responsibility for the worlds that are produced through research practices
(St. Pierre, Jackson, & Mazzei, 2016).
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Prioritizing Affect
The affective turn has influenced the new materialisms through its attention to nonconscious, noncognitive,
and transindividual bodily forces and capacities. In the tradition of Baruch Spinoza, affect is often described
as the capacities of bodies to act or be acted upon by other bodies. The work of Massumi, Erin Manning,
Greg Seigworth, Lone Bertlesen, and Andrew Murphie have been significant in this area of thought. Affective
capacities are coproduced through intensities, proximities, and viscosities circulating between, through, and
transversal to individual bodies, but at the same time can also stick to particular bodies (Ahmed, 2004). Affect
theories are diverse and have been activated by new materialists through engagement with Fred Moten and
Stefano Harney’s hapticality, Clough’s sociology of affect, Lisa Blackman’s mediation, Stewart’s surfacing,
Claire Colebrook’s viral, Derek McCormack’s atmospheres, and Elspeth Probyn’s work on shame. Affect
theories highlight how bodies become rather than what bodies are. However, because there is a tendency
to ascribe affect to prepersonal sensations, some theorizations of affect can consequently erase identity and
appear apolitical. As such, queer, feminist, critical disability, critical race, and qualitative researchers prioritize
frictionally attending to intersectional concerns as well as affective intensities. This process responsibly
involves understanding how “affect and researcher ‘subjectivity’ permeate the research process at every
stage” including research design, data collection, and dissemination (Ringrose & Renold, 2014, p. 772).
Rebutting Representationalism and the Linguistic Turn
The linguistic turn dominated the humanities in the 1980s and 1990s and is associated with scholarship as
broad as analytic philosophy, structuralism, and poststructuralism. The linguistic turn is often oversimplified
into the idea that language mediates everything and people cannot access reality beyond language (Jacques
Derrida’s statement “there’s no outside the text” is unfairly cited as proof for this claim). New materialist
scholars do not suggest that language should be done away with, nor that language is not material. However,
many new materialist scholars draw attention to ways in which the linguistic turn and poststructuralism
were often instrumentalized to inadvertently reify the very binaries they purported to “deconstruct,” such
as nature and culture, language and materiality. It is important to point out that the idea of the nature/
culture split assigned to poststructuralists has sometimes been exaggerated by social science and humanities
researchers who have lumped scholars such as Derrida and Judith Butler unfairly into a category of “not
caring” about matter. A close reading of such scholars demonstrates that they are far more attentive to matter,
and what Vicky Kirby might call the flesh of language, than some applications of their concepts in social
science research would lead people to believe.
Poststructuralists and new materialists would agree that binaries feed into a representationalist logic.
Epistemologically speaking, representationalism is the view that the only things people can know are
representations of the world. Ontologically, this sets up a binary between distinct entities (that preexist
and come to be known or experienced through representation) and the ontologically discreet knower.
Furthermore, it sets up a binary between the representations of a thing, and whatever the thing is that’s
being represented. In representationalist logic separation is foundational. New materialist scholars refute this
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binary by saying we don’t come to know through standing at a distance from the world but through direct
engagement with it; as such, ontoepistemological processes challenge the view that knowing (epistemology)
and being (ontology) are separate. This kind of thinking runs parallel with Nigel Thrift and Phillip Vannini’s
nonrepresentational thought that has been taken up in a variety of fields including human geographies,
performance studies, and research creation. Representational concerns are highlighted in much of what has
been dubbed “postqualitative” research.
Key Feminist New Materialist Concepts
Leveraged by Methodologists
This section highlights a few key new materialisms concepts that have the potential to activate a feminist
politics in qualitative research methodologies. The key concepts are diffraction (difference), response-ability/
onto-ethico-epistemology, and situated feminisms (and speculative fabulations). Many of these concepts
overlap and are linked to and draw from the broad movements in the new materialisms across disciplines
discussed in the opening section.
Diffraction is what happens to waves when they pass through an aperture: They bend, intra-act with other
waves, create troughs where they cancel each other out, and peaks where they amplify each other and
that’s what generates a diffractive pattern where light and black bands are visible. For Barad and Haraway,
diffraction is a critical response to the idea of reflection: Diffraction attends to difference rather than sameness.
Reflection only reflects back what it already knows and as such is aligned with representational thought.
Many scholars have begun to use diffraction as a research methodology in qualitative research. This
approach means reading insights from different areas of study through one another, where resonances and
differences between varying theories are articulated and affect what is produced (what comes to matter).
Diffraction is a productivist reading rather than a critique that allows the effects of different differences to
become evident. With this comes a responsibility for the researcher to acknowledge, “which differences
matter, how they matter, and for whom” (Barad, 2007, p. 90). By this, Barad is drawing attention to how
within a diffractive reading researchers cannot merely pay attention to what matters but also need to consider
what’s been excluded from mattering. This is the ethicopolitical thrust of diffractive reading and has direct
implications for feminist new materialist approaches to qualitative research (Hickey-Moody, Palmer, & Sayers,
Braidotti (2013) views the human “subject” as situated within “an eco-philosophy of multiple belongings
but still grounded and accountable” (p. 49). This subject is partially accountable based in the fact of its
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membership within a relational collectivity. Agential realism (discussed earlier) not only privileges being and
knowledge arising simultaneously (through relations) but also inserts ethics in the mix: This is Barad’s onto-
ethico-epistemology. If the ontological turn insists that researchers come to know through intra-action, Barad
insists that researchers also have an ethico (ethics) responsibility for the phenomena that are produced.
Scholars are anachronistically responsible for the world we bring (cut) into being and “the lively relationalities
of becoming of which we are part” (Barad, 2007, p. 393). Qualitative researchers Mindy Blaise, Catherine
Hamm, and Jeanne Iorio (2016) articulate this notion of response-ability as “always experienced in the
company of significant others … not within a set of universal principles, but in everyday practices and
imaginative politics that rearticulate all kinds of relations” (p. 2). Response-ability is born within the event of
coming together. This has direct implications to qualitative research methodologies including methodological
design, how data are captured and analysed, and the scholarship we used to theorize research. Haraway’s
work has been significant in addressing the politics of location and situated knowledges, arguing that scholars
need to “stay with the trouble,” in order to be accountable to the world-makings and theory-makings they are
a part of. If scholars take new materialisms seriously and recognize the materiality of language and thought,
then the concepts and words they use to describe and understand something also have material affects and
create worlds.
Situated Feminisms and Speculative Fabulation
This trajectory from feminist poststructuralism through to new materialisms can be encapsulated in Haraway’s
(1991) statement: “feminist objectivity means quite simply situated knowledges (p. 188, italics in original).
Stacy Alaimo (2016) discusses her notion of inhabitation. This inhabitation is not occupation but rather a form
of ethical action that arises through recognizing one’s own location within “wider, more-than-human kin ship
network” (p. 30). In this regard, feminist new materialisms project toward a different world through “becoming-
with-context, situated knowledges and speculative alter-worlding” (Åsberg, Thiele, & van der Tuin, 2015, p.
164). Through speculative alter-worlding, materialist feminisms envision new worlds within inherited contexts.
Situated feminisms and speculative fabulations (of how the world could be) operate as a kind of differential
movement in feminist new materialisms. Feminism has always been a situated practice and speculative
practice. This situated curiosity, a desire for experimentation and speculative thought (feminist-worlding),
is the radical backbone of the feminist new materialisms. Grosz (2004) outlines how political and cultural
struggles focus on a both reconfiguring the past to rectify injustices as well as engaging in “dreams of the
future that make its projects endless, unattainable, ongoing experiments rather than solutions” (2004, p.
14). Since racism, heterosexism, ableism, and assumptions about gender identity are material realities, a
situated feminism must attend to and intervene in the processes and assemblages that allow inequalities to
emerge, persist, and reproduce. Qualitative research sites and events—both empirical sites where research is
conducted and radically empiricist sites of reading and speculating with theory—are crucial material situations
for practicing feminist politics.
Feminist new materialist concepts bring an important political orientation to conducting research that is
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accountable, situated, and responsible. However, in some instances—when concepts are decontextualized
and extracted from their original context and inserted into research—they lose their feminist intersectional
implications. Similarly, a focus on animacy, vitality, and flattened ontologies, while important for decentering
humanism, can inadvertently eclipse politics, begging the question that if everything is political, where’s
the politics? Celia Åsberg, Katrin Thiele, and van der Tuin (2015) argue that not only has the question of
the political been elided in some new materialist scholarship, queries regarding its contributions to queer
feminist political agency have been lost. In conversation with their concerns, the next section focuses on some
critiques of the new materialisms when they lose track of feminist politics.
Critiques of the New Materialisms
Feminism is the advocacy of human rights and justice on the basis of equality of the sexes, genders,
sexuality, class, ability, and race. This definition is different from the historical definition of feminism that
focused specifically on making cis-hetero-white-women equal to cis-hetero-white-men. Black feminist scholar
Audre Lorde famously said, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” In that statement,
Lorde was addressing White feminists who fight against patriarchy in some aspects of their lives while still
benefitting from the patriarchy through racism, heteronormativity, classism, and ableism. To remain current,
feminism must account for intersectional forms of oppression and prioritize queer, trans, disability, and
Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) thought (QT&BIPOC). Similarly, to remain feminist, the new
materialisms must also account for intersectionality and situated knowledges, pose questions about an ethics
of response-ability, and challenge White supremacy, misogyny, and ableism.
As noted earlier, the implications are 2-fold. First, it is imperative that concepts from feminist new materialist
scholarship not be extracted from their intersectional feminist contexts and simply used by qualitative
researchers in order to perform “new” or “inventive” research. Second, the relationships scholars build with
concepts and research that they cite is part of a feminist praxis. In other words, it is not feminist new
materialism to read a piece of data diffractively, unless one also takes into account the diffractive production
of intersectional politics.
The scholars highlighted in this next section are critical of the Whiteness and coloniality of how questions of
matter, agency, and history are put to work in some forms of research; however, they are not against the more
general problematic of focusing on matter and a wider understanding of agency. These important critiques are
not here to discourage researchers from engaging with the new materialisms, but rather to reaffirm a feminist
politics of engagement in a field that has real potential to intervene in colonialism, racism, heterosexisism,
and ableism.
QT&BIPOC scholars have drawn attention to how some uptakes of the new materialisms’ seemingly flattened
ontology, emphasis on vitality of matter, and privileging of relations can erase subjectivity, become apolitical,
and inadvertently recenter humanism through a focus on predominantly white Euro-Western theories and
theorists. Marginalized populations such as BIPOC, queer, trans, and disabled people who have always
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been excluded from the category of the Human are wary of claims that decentering the human, flattening
ontologies, and redistributing agency will suddenly level the playing field. Uri McMillan (2015) warns scholars
not to fall into the “too-easy assertion that a vital materialism will act as a safety net for those at the very
bottom of personhood” (p. 226). Similarly, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson draws attention to posthumanism’s failure
to account for the challenges “posed by the categories of race, colonialism, and slavery” (Jackson, 2013, p.
Furthermore, Indigenous scholars have critiqued the new materialisms for their omission of Indigenous
epistemologies. Zoe Todd has highlighted how White scholars continue to celebrate other White Euro-
Western thinkers for seemingly “discovering” that there’s agency or vitality in matter—something Indigenous
epistemologies have affirmed for centuries. To complicate this further, BIPOC scholars have also warned
against simply injecting Indigenous theories into a new materialism framework to try and diversify the field,
as that functions as what TallBear notes is a false equivalency. As Todd (2016) argues, ontology is another
word for colonialism. The position that ontology is another word for colonialism speaks to the reality that much
new materialism scholarship and the posthumanities in general continue to draw from Euro-Western thought,
while attempting to overthrow humanist tendencies, which is similar to trying to dismantle the master’s house
using his tools. Tiffany Lethbo King (2017) draws attention to colonial language and concepts at work in new
materialist thought such as Deleuze and Guattari’s nomadology. King (2017) states, we “need to consider on
whose back or through whose blood a theory developed and then circulated while hiding its own violence” (p.
170). Consequentially, the inheritances that accompany a concept, including where it comes from and how
it is being activated, or what Sara Ahmed calls a politics of citation is a crucial part of a feminist outlook on
research, whether that research is empirical and takes place in the field, or radical empiricist and completed
through thinking about and with theories and concepts. The theories and concepts scholars use to build their
research platforms matter, the theories and concepts researchers use to contextualize their research matter,
the (in)tensions they bring to research matter (Springgay & Truman, 2018).
While concepts are integral to feminist new materialism, concepts alone do not make feminist new materialist
methodologies. Concepts, theories, and praxis are implicated by the situated and specific ethical and political
contexts in which they take part. For example, critics of new materialism ask questions about human value,
wondering if new materialist vitality means that a cellphone (for example) is as important or more important
than humans. This question neglects to think about the concept of vitality from a feminist new materialist
and intersectional framework. Consider a phone constructed from metal, frequently mined at the expense
of violent racialized human labor and Indigenous sovereign rights over land. In considering the “value” of a
phone, feminist new materialist research might ask questions about the ways that humans and metal and
phone and land and capitalism and economy and militarism, and so on, are already imbricated in each other.
This is the politics of entanglement. The feminist new materialisms are not simply a gesture to move beyond
the human and recognize agency in matter; rather, they charge qualitative research with particular ethical,
aesthetic, and political tasks.
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A Suggested Checklist for Researchers
As outlined throughout this entry, the feminist new materialisms are a complex field inspired by a range of
disciplines. A new materialist understanding of qualitative research acknowledges both empirical research in
the field and the “radically empiricist” research of reading and speculating with theory as material practices.
Feminism recognizes intersecting patterns of marginalization encompassing race, gender, sexuality, age,
socioeconomic class, dis/ability, and nationality as they play out institutionally, culturally, conceptually, and
materially. A feminist new materialist understanding of research takes responsibility for what is produced
through the research process including the theories researchers think with, the scholarship researchers cite,
and the intentions researchers bring to research design, data collection, representation, and dissemination.
The following several key questions might help beginning researchers cultivate a feminist new materialist
orientation to their research practices:
1. Who and what are you affirming through citational practices and research collaborations? (Who and
what is being erased/excluded?)
2. Is your feminist new materialism theorizing, feminist? How are intersectional concerns and situated
knowledges being recognized alongside of a turn to matter and decentering of Humanism?
3. In what ways is your thinking-as-research unsettling established assumptions and engaging with an
anti-racist, decolonial, and feminist politics? (Is your radical empiricism actually radical imperialism?)
4. Are you conducting research with QT&BIPOC and disabled adults or, youth? Whose theorizing
informs your own research? How helpful is it to the participant humans (and more-than-humans) in
your study? How are you taking responsibility for the networks, relations, and worlds created through
your research process from design through to dissemination?
At the very least, these questions offer a critical starting point to ensure qualitative researchers are taking into
account some of the central concerns raised by feminist new materialist thinkers.
Further Readings
Ahmed, S. (2008). Open forum imaginary prohibitions: Some preliminary remarks on the founding gestures
of the “new materialism.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 15, 2339.
Alaimo, S., & Hekman S. (Eds.). (2008). Material feminisms. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Almanac. (2018). New materialism: Networking European scholarship on “how matter comes to matter.”
Retrieved from
Barad, K. (2015). Transmaterialities: Trans*/matter/realities and queer political imaginings. TSQ:
Transgender Studies Quarterly, 2, 387422. Retrieved from
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Braidotti, R., Bozalek, V., Shefer, T., & Zembylas, M. (Eds.). (2018). Socially just pedagogies:
Posthumanist, feminist and materialist perspectives in higher education. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.
de Freitas, E. (2017). Karen Barad’s quantum ontology and posthuman ethics: Rethinking the concept of
relationality. Qualitative Inquiry, 23, 741748.
Haraway, D. (2008). When species meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Haritaworn, J. (2015). Decolonizing the non/human. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 21,
Hinton, P., & van der Tuin, I. (2015). Teaching with feminist materialisms. Utrecht, the Netherlands:
Jones, A., & Jenkins, K. (2008). Indigenous discourse and “the material”: A post-interpretivist argument.
International Review of Qualitative Research, 1, 125144.
Kirby, V. (Ed.). (2018). What if culture was nature all along? Edinburgh, England: Edinburgh University Press.
Lather, P., & St Pierre, E. (2013). Post-qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in
Education, 26, 629633. Retrieved from
Lenz Taguchi, H. (2010). Going beyond the theory/practice divide in early childhood education: Introducing
an intra-active pedagogy. New York, NY: Routledge.
MacLure, M. (2013). Researching without representation? Language and materiality in post-qualitative
methodology. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26, 658667. Retrieved from
Puar, J. (2012). “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess” Becoming-intersectional in assemblage theory.
PhiloSOPHIA, 2, 4966.
Ringrose, J., Warfield, K., & Zarabadi, S. (Eds.). (2018). Feminist posthumanisms, new materialisms and
education. London, England: Routledge.
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Feminist new materialisms are a porous field influenced by feminist science and technology studies, the environmental humanities, the thought of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, transgender and queer studies, and affect studies. In qualitative research, the feminist new materialisms are often linked to discussions of the posthuman, object-oriented ontology, and the ontological or vital materialist turn. As these theoretical turns are activated in qualitative research, they in turn upset classical notions of positivism, directly implicate researchers in the research process, attune researchers’ attention to more-than-human agents, challenge representationalism, and recognize that thinking-with theoretical concepts is also “empirical” research.
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This edited collection is a careful assemblage of papers that have contributed to the maturing field within education studies that works with the feminist implications of the theories and methodologies of posthumanism and new materialism-what we have also called elsewhere 'PhEmaterialism'. The generative questions for this collection are: what if we locate education in doing and becoming rather than being? And, how does associating education with matter, multiplicity and relationality change how we think about agency, ontology and epistemology? This collection foregrounds cutting-edge educational research that works to trouble the binaries between theory and methodology. It demonstrates new forms of feminist ethics and response-ability in research practices, and offers some coherence to this new area of research. This volume will provide a vital reference text for educational researchers and scholars interested in this burgeoning area of theoretically informed methodology and methodologically informed theory.
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This article draws on Donna Haraway’s call for feminist speculative fabulation as an approach to qualitative research methodologies and writing praxis in schools. The first section of the article outlines how I conceptualize speculative thought, through different philosophers and theorists, and provides a brief literature review of speculative fiction used in secondary English curricula. The article then focuses on an in school creative writing project with grade 9 English students. In the student examples that I attend to, speculative fabulations and situated feminisms (race, gender, sexuality) are entangled, rendered complex, and in tension. In the final section, I discuss the Whiteness of mainstream speculative fiction and argue that speculative fabulation must be accountable to situated feminisms in how we read, write, and conduct research.
Following Judith Butler's idea of “materialization,” the authors consider the effects of three different approaches to historical information about the educational relationship between indigenous and settler peoples. As a part of an argument about how one might legitimately study the establishment of such a relationship and take seriously the viewpoint of the indigenous people, the authors asks what it becomes possible to think when we eschew popular “multiple discourses” in favour of a strategic engagement with a post-interpretivist empiricism. The authors — respectively descendants of white settlers and indigenous Māori — focus on a material reality not present in the archives recording the initial interactions between the indigenous people and the first permanent British settlers in New Zealand.
As a research methodology, walking has a diverse and extensive history in the social sciences and humanities, underscoring its value for conducting research that is situated, relational, and material. Building on the importance of place, sensory inquiry, embodiment, and rhythm within walking research, this book offers four new concepts for walking methodologies that are accountable to an ethics and politics of the more-than-human: Land and geos, affect, transmaterial and movement. The book carefully considers the more-than-human dimensions of walking methodologies by engaging with feminist new materialisms, posthumanisms, affect theory, trans and queer theory, Indigenous theories, and critical race and disability scholarship. These more-than-human theories rub frictionally against the history of walking scholarship and offer crucial insights into the potential of walking as a qualitative research methodology in a more-than-human world. Theoretically innovative, the book is grounded in examples of walking research by WalkingLab, an international research network on walking ( The book is rich in scope, engaging with a wide range of walking methods and forms including: long walks on hiking trails, geological walks, sensory walks, sonic art walks, processions, orienteering races, protest and activist walks, walking tours, dérives, peripatetic mapping, school-based walking projects, and propositional walks. The chapters draw on WalkingLab’s research-creation events to examine walking in relation to settler colonialism, affective labour, transspecies, participation, racial geographies and counter-cartographies, youth literacy, environmental education, and collaborative writing. The book outlines how more-than-human theories can influence and shape walking methodologies and provokes a critical mode of walking-with that engenders solidarity, accountability, and response-ability. This volume will appeal to graduate students, artists, and academics and researchers who are interested in Education, Cultural Studies, Queer Studies, Affect Studies, Geography, Anthropology, and (Post)Qualitative Research Methods.
This edited collection takes up the wild and sudden surge of new materialisms in the field of curriculum studies. New materialisms shift away from the strong focus on discourse associated with the linguistic or cultural turn in theory and toward recent work in the physical and biological sciences; in doing so, they posit ontologies of becoming that re-configure our sense of what a human person is and how that person relates to the more-than-human ecologies in which it is nested. Ignited by an urgency to disrupt the dangers of anthropocentrism and systems of domination in the work of curriculum and pedagogy, this book builds upon the axiom that agency is not a uniquely human capacity but something inherent in all matter. This collection blurs the boundaries of human and non-human, animate and inanimate, to focus on webs of interrelations. Each chapter explores these questions while attending to the ethical, aesthetic, and political tasks of education—both in and out of school contexts. It is essential reading for anyone interested in feminist, queer, anti-racist, ecological, and posthumanist theories and practices of education
The Posthuman offers both an introduction and major contribution to contemporary debates on the posthuman. Digital 'second life', genetically modified food, advanced prosthetics, robotics and reproductive technologies are familiar facets of our globally linked and technologically mediated societies. This has blurred the traditional distinction between the human and its others, exposing the non-naturalistic structure of the human. The Posthuman starts by exploring the extent to which a post-humanist move displaces the traditional humanistic unity of the subject. Rather than perceiving this situation as a loss of cognitive and moral self-mastery, Braidotti argues that the posthuman helps us make sense of our flexible and multiple identities. Braidotti then analyzes the escalating effects of post-anthropocentric thought, which encompass not only other species, but also the sustainability of our planet as a whole. Because contemporary market economies profit from the control and commodification of all that lives, they result in hybridization, erasing categorical distinctions between the human and other species, seeds, plants, animals and bacteria. These dislocations induced by globalized cultures and economies enable a critique of anthropocentrism, but how reliable are they as indicators of a sustainable future? The Posthuman concludes by considering the implications of these shifts for the institutional practice of the humanities. Braidotti outlines new forms of cosmopolitan neo-humanism that emerge from the spectrum of post-colonial and race studies, as well as gender analysis and environmentalism. The challenge of the posthuman condition consists in seizing the opportunities for new social bonding and community building, while pursuing sustainability and empowerment