assemblage theory

For my own reference I attempted to compile the most complete list of published books on speculative realism, object-oriented ontology, new materialisms, and associated work and I figured I would share it. I also include in this list works from feminist materialisms, because they are important for providing a fuller genealogy for contemporary research, and those authors that are harder to classify together but generally write on nihilism, pessimism, and eliminationism. For the moment I’ve left off Francois Laruelle, who is still very confusing to me, and accelerationist authors like Nick Land and McKenzie Wark. The tags are my own and don’t necessarily reflect how the authors self-identify.

Graham Harman – Object-Oriented Ontology

Tool Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects (1993/2011)

Guerilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things (2011)

Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (2009)

Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures (2010)

Circus Philosophicus (2010)

The Prince and the Wolf: Harman and Latour at the LSE (2011)

Quentin Meillasoux: Philosophy in the Making (2011)

The Quadruple Object (2011)

Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy (2012)

Bells and Whistles: More Speculative Realism (2013)

Levi Bryant – Onticology/Machine-Oriented Ontology

The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, Edited with Nick Snricek and Graham Harman (2011)

The Democracy of Objects (2011)

Onto-Cartography: An Ontology of Machines and Media (2014)

Timothy Morton – OOO, Ecology

Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics (2009)

The Ecological Thought (2012)

Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (2013)

Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World (2013)

Ian Bogost – OOO, Game Studies

Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing (2012)

Quentin Meillassoux – Speculative Materialism

After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency (2009)

The Number and The Siren: A Decipherment of Mallarme’s Coup De Des (2012)

Ray Brassier – Eliminative Materialism

Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (2010)

Iain Hamilton Grant – Naturphilosophie

Philosophies of Nature After Schelling (2008)

Jane Bennett – Political Theory, Vitalism

Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (2009)

Reza Negarestani – Eliminative Materialism, Theory-Novel

Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (2008)

Ben Woodard – Naturphilosphie, Nihilism, Pessimism

Slime Dynamics (2012)

On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy (2013)

Steven Shaviro – Film Studies, Process Thought

Without Criteria: Kant, Deleuze, Whitehead, and Aesthetics (2009)

William Connolly – Political Theory, Pluralism

A World of Becoming (2012)

The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism (2013)

Paul J. Ennis

Post-Continental Voices: Selected Interviews (2010)

Continental Realism (2011)

Adrian Johnston – Transcendental Materialism

Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism: The Outcome of Contemporary French Philosophy (2013)

Adventures in Transcendental Materialism: Dialogues with Contemporary Thinkers (2014)

John Protevi – Deleuze, Science Studies

Political Affect: Connecting the Social and the Somatic (2009)

Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences (2013)

Eugene Thacker – Media Studies, Horror, Dark Vitalism

After Life (2010)

In the Dust of This Planet: Horror of Philosophy Vol. 1 (2011)

Thomas Ligotti – Horror, Nihilism, Anti-Natalism

The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (2012)

Diana Coole and Samantha Frost – Political Theory, New Feminist Materialisms

New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics (2012)

Stacy Alaimo – New Feminist Materialisms

Ed. Material Feminisms (2013)

Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self (2010)

Bruno Latour – Actor Network Theory

We Have Never Been Modern (2012)

Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (2007)

An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns (2013)

Adam S. Miller - Theology

Speculative Grace: Bruno Latour and Object-Oriented Theology

Dylan Trigg – Phenomenology, Horror

The Aesthetics of Decay: Nothingness, Nostalgia, and the Absence of Reason (2006)

The Memory of Place: A Phenomenology of the Uncanny (2013)

The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror (2014)

Tom Sparrow – Phenomenology, Horror

Levinas Unhinged (2013)

The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism (2014)

Peter Gratton

Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects (2014)

w/ Paul J. Ennis, The Meillassoux Dictionary (2014)

Tristan Garcia

Form and Object: A Treatise on Things (2014)

Elizabeth Grosz – New Material Feminisms, Deleuze

Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (1994)

The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and The Untimely (2004)

Becoming Undone: Darwinian Reflections on Life, Politics, and Art (2011)

Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth (2012)

Donna Haraway – Cyborg Theory, New Feminist Materialisms

Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature

The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness (2003)

When Species Meet (2013)

Rosi Braidotti – Nomad Theory, Deleuze, New Feminist Materialisms

Transpositions: On Nomadic Ethics (2006)

Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory (2011)

Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming (2013)

The Posthuman (2013)

Karen Barad – Agential Realism, New Feminist Materialisms

Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2013)

Manuel DeLanda – Deleuze, Realism, Science Studies

A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History (2000)

A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (2006)

Philosophy and Simulation: The Emergence of Synthetic Reason (2011)

Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (2013)

Isabelle Stengers – Process Thought

Thinking with Whitehead: A Free and Wild Creation of Concepts (2011)

Cosmopolitics I (2010)

Cosmopolitics II (2011)

Rick Dolphijn and Iris van der Tuin

New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies (2012)

The term ‘parameter’ comes from scientific models of physical processes. In these models, variables specify the different ways in which the phenomenon being studied can change, while parameters specify the environmental factors that affect the phenomenon. […] By analogy, we can add parameters to concepts. Adding these control knobs to the concept of assemblage would allow us to eliminate their opposition to strata, with the result that strata and assemblages (in the original sense) would become phases, like the solid and fluid phases of matter
—  Manuel DeLanda, Assemblage Theory, 19
Not acknowledging the hybrid nature of social mechanisms can be a source of misunderstanding and mystification in social science. For example, social activities in which means are successfully matched to ends are traditionally labeled as ‘rational’. But this label obscures the fact that these activities involve problem solving skills of different kinds (not a single mental faculty like 'rationality’) and that explaining the successful solution of practical problems will involve consideration of relevant causal events, such as physical interactions with the means to achieve a goal, not just calculations in an actors head. Similarly, when giving traditional routines as explanations one may reduce these to ritual and ceremony (and label these 'irrational’), but this obscures the fact that many inherited routines are in fact problem-solving procedures which have been slowly refined by successive generations. These practical routines may be overlaid by ritual symbolism, while at the same time being capable of leading to successful causal interactions with material entities, such as domesticated plants and soil.
—  Manuel DeLanda - A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (p. 24)

The category of gender is a construct, and gender identity is a way of relating to the discursive act upon the body and conditionally accepting or rejecting aspects of it. To completely accept this discourse is rare, especially because of the violence that comes with gendering of the body-object. While other power structures may contribute to the emotions that lead to existential turmoil and philosophical angst at the discourse of gender surrounding one’s body, that gender is part of the assemblage of oppression is not to be denied. This is especially true in cis women, who identify as women but must deal with the resultant violence.

All of this is to say that basic, reductive conceptions of cisness that describe it as a comfort with the body-object in relation to gender rely upon incredibly fraught assumptions about relating to the body-object as well as how cisnormative standards dictate this process of relating and in turn how one may relate to that process of relating. 

Furthermore, it reduces transness to dysphoria, which is itself not only a limiting and restrictive narrative of transness designed to medicalize trans experience while allowing it to be understood as a subjectivity based upon pain and unbelonging in the body-object that may be easily consumed by cisnormative metanarratives. 

Dysphoria without gender would still be possible, but it would not be transness by any measure of construction because transness is a relation to discursive forces of gender. Destruction of gender can relate in a far wider range of expression and comfort, and in fact would be at its core a destruction of the relations involved in gatekeeping for trans people, trans women especially. Creating incoherence-of-gender in the meantime is a rather strong way of resisting forces of gendering, but it cannot be the extent of one’s resistance to gender. Rather, it must be a starting point from which the relations of gender may be analyzed and deconstructed, and the points at which gender is deconstructed in turn examined for a replication of gender under other modes of construction and exertion of power. 

Destroying the colonial apparatus of gender does not mean destroying identity or cultural manifestations of that which is called gender. Rather, the power structures involved which allow for gendered violence and for gender to be a part of violent assemblages would themselves be gone. 

This is not an inherent aspect of socialism; some socialists and communists would be unwilling to engage in this specific project because of the necessity of poststructuralist analysis and drawing-upon of postmodernism (a sort of post-postmodernism) but to say that these are thusly alien goals to socialist liberation is an incorrect assumption. The vocabularies and ways of analyzing structures could potentially be different, but I would not begrudge more orthodox marxists who worked upon the same projects of unintelligibility towards gender and an eventual realization of what identity would constitute in assemblage post-gender.