Mattering Elements

Suzana Sawyer
Anthropology
UC Davis


Participants

Andrew Barry
Geography
University College London

Cristobal Bonelli
Anthropology
University of Amsterdam

Stephanie Graeter
Latin American Studies
University of Arizona

Cori Hayden
Anthropology
UC Berkeley

Evan Heplers-Smith
History
Duke University

Melody Jue
English
UC Santa Barbara

Nathan Lane
Anthropology
UC Davis

Dimitris Papadopoulos
Technology and Society
University of Nottingham

Doug Rogers
Anthropology
Yale University

Nicholas Shapiro
Society and Genetics
UCLA

Jerry Zee
Anthropology & High Meadows Environmental Institute
Princeton University

Marisol de la Cadena
Anthropology
UC Davis


This scholarly collective explores the multiple analytical and empirical capacities that chemical philosophy and chemistry practice afford when thought materially and metaphorically. Our scholarly collective seeks to tap chemistry—the science of transformation—and its historically shifting methods as inspiration for thinking the unstable materializations of our world. It asks: what capacities and modalities emerge when we think of the chemical and chemical process as substantively, semiotically, and/or poetically agentive of processes far beyond the molecular? Our scholarly commitment to engage with chemistry is not because we deem it the purveyor of truths or the real. Rather, it is to embark on a speculative experiment: how might imaginative appropriation of chemistry’s transfiguring methods engender innovative ways for thinking turbulent sociomaterial relations? Broadly speaking, the residency would have two aims. First, it will develop ways to conceptualize the material beyond surface or shape, and attend to the cataclysmic and transformative chemistries (both literal and metaphoric) that constitute matters of concern in our worlds. Second, it will consider the affordances that thinking with chemistry extends—an affective and valanced grammar that (rather than denunciatory, deconstructive, or agnostic) suspends a processual ethic, and aesthetic, for navigating a world composed of complex relations.