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Introduction to new book Reactivating Elements with Duke University Press now available online

Reactivating Elements: Chemistry, Ecology, Practice is coming out with Duke University Press soon. The book is edited by Dimitris Papadopoulos, María Puig de la Bellacasa, and Natasha Myers and is featuring essays by Isabelle Stengers, Dimitris Papadopoulos, Stefan Helmreich, Joseph Dumit, Astrid Schrader, Joseph Masco, Patrick Bresnihan, Cori Hayden, María Puig de la Bellacasa, Timothy Choy, Michelle Murphy

Check out the introduction which is now available online.

The contributors to Reactivating Elements examine chemicals as they mix with soil, air, water, and fire to shape Earth's troubled ecologies today. They invoke the elements with all their ambivalences as chemical categories, material substances, social forms, forces and energies, cosmological entities, and epistemic objects. Engaging with the nonlinear historical significance of elemental thought across fields—chemistry, the biosciences, engineering, physics, science and technology studies, the environmental humanities, ecocriticism, and cultural studies—the contributors examine the relationship between chemistry and ecology, probe the logics that render wind as energy, excavate affective histories of ubiquitous substances such as plastics and radioactive elements, and chart the damage wrought by petrochemical industrialization. Throughout, the volume illuminates how elements become entangled with power and control, coloniality, racism, and extractive productivism while exploring alternative paths to environmental destruction. In so doing, it rethinks the relationship between the elements and the elemental, human and more-than-human worlds, today’s damaged ecosystems and other ecologies to come.

“This is a book populated by many of my favorite writers, analysts, and storytellers. Here, they resituate elemental things for me once again. The book is a kind of periodic table for recharting possible responses to Earth’s troubled ecologies with verve and seriousness. These writers always take formal, aesthetic, and intellectual risks to say something important, and they have done it again. The book provokes curiosity because its authors are actually curious rather than self certain. Reactivating Elements is a book to savor!” — Donna J. Haraway, author of Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene

“Tracking waves and wind, bromine, plutonium, and plastics—elemental thinking becomes a way to unsettle long-established category schemes and ways of working. Starting with a critique of how the periodic table itself organizes knowledge and practice, the collection shows how elemental thinking can become creative and animating rather than formulaic, provocative and generative rather than reductive and foreclosing. Paradoxes abound and are a powerful draw for contemporary cultural analysts.” — Kim Fortun, author of Advocacy after Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disaster, New Global Orders

“Expanding on critiques of the Anthropocene, this compelling volume refreshingly offers new theoretical and methodological approaches to researching and responding to the multiple toxicities of late industrialism.” — Sara Wylie, author of Fractivism: Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds

Posted on Tuesday 14th December 2021

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