Critical Theory and New Materialisms

International Conference

Born out of the spirit of ‘old’ historical materialism, Critical Theory has often – and paradoxically – been viewed as taking an excessive distance towards the materiality of the world. By understanding itself as a post-metaphysical continuation of the incomplete project of enlightened modernity, it has largely anchored its emancipatory horizon in intersubjective practices of rational communication, recognition and justification. Yet this view is being challenged today. Via the foregrounding of concepts such as resonance, affect, life and force, questions of materiality and ontology have regained prominence. Traditional conceptions of human and non-human nature have been rethought, with significant implications for political practice and critique. But Critical Theory is not alone in this. A similar shift towards ontologies of nature, matter, life, and affect has taken place in recent post-structuralist debates. In a parallel move, ‘new materialist’ theories have argued against restrictive and hierarchical dualisms which largely shaped modern thought: matter versus life, biological versus symbolic life, or affectivity versus rationality. Acknowledging their similarities as well as their differences, this conference aims at establishing a dialogue between these intellectual currents which so far have developed in a safe distance from one another, exploring their implications for ecological, political, aesthetic and gender issues.

If you are interested, please register with

Prof. Hartmut Rosa, Max Weber Kolleg, Erfurt
Dr. Arthur Bueno, Max Weber Kolleg, Erfurt / Nanterre University, Paris
Dr. Joris Anja Gregor, Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Dr. Christoph Henning, Max Weber Kolleg, Erfurt
Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and
the State of Thuringia (OdB: Ordering Dynamics)

Further information