New Materialism

RELATED TERMS: Affordances; Speculative realism; Object-oriented ontology

Certain aspects of new materialist thinking, which Sara Ahmed has called white feminist materialism (Hickey-Moody, 2015: 169), may be of value in designing and analysing narrative environments, for example, its emphasis on meaning production, on the ‘performative’ character of the world and on the fact of being environed by artefacts fashioned by human design. As a theoretical resource, it could be useful to re-think the interrelationships among the material, agential (or, rather actantial) and human dimensions of a narrative environment.

Keith Ansell-Pearson argues that although it is stated by some of its proponents that new materialism is a term coined by Rosi Braidotti and Manuel de Landa in the second half of the 1990s (Dolphijn and Tuin 2011: 383), this overlooks the fact that, in the 1960s, Deleuze was using this term in connection with his reading of Spinoza.

New materialism seeks to demonstrate that the mind, in being ‘bodily’, is always already material but that, nevertheless, the mind takes ‘bodiliness’ as its object, and that nature and culture are always already ‘nature cultures’, in Donna Haraway’s term.

New materialism critiques the dualism inherent in transcendental and humanist traditions which still linger in some cultural theory. The transcendental and humanist traditions continue to stir debates that are being opened up by new materialists who seek to shift these dualist structures by allowing for the fluxes of nature and culture, matter and mind, thereby opening up active theory formation. (Dolphijn and Tuin, 2012)


Ansell-Pearson, K. (2015). Deleuze and new materialism: naturalism, norms and ethics [Essay]. Available from [Accessed 17 February 2016].

Coole, D. and Frost, S. (eds) (2010) New materialisms: ontology, agency, and politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Dolphijn, R. and van der Tuin, I. (2011), Pushing dualism to an extreme: On the Philosophical Impetus of a new materialism’, Continental Philosophy Review, 44, 383-400.

Dolphijn, R. and van der Tuin, I. (2012). New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies, Ann Arbor, MI: Open Humanities Press. Available at: Accessed on 29 July 2014

Hickey-Moody, A. (2015). Manifesto: The rhizomatics of practice as research. In: Arts, Pedagogy and Cultural Resistance. London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.

For a discussion of the many lines of flight of new materialism, see New Materialist Cartographies