This edited collection is a major contribution to the current development of a ‘material turn’ in the social sciences and humanities. It does so by exploring new understandings of how power is made up and exercised by examining the role of material infrastructures in the organization of state power and the role of material cultural practices in the organization of colonial forms of governance.
A diverse range of historical examples is drawn on in illustrating these concerns – from the role of territorial engineering projects in seventeenth-century France through the development of the postal system in nineteenth-century Britain to the relations between the state and road-building in contemporary Peru, for example. The colonial contexts examined are similarly varied, ranging from the role of photographic practices in the constitution of colonial power in India and the measurement of the bodies of the colonized in French colonial practices to the part played by the relations between museums and expeditions in the organization of Australian forms of colonial rule. These specific concerns are connected to major critical re-examination of the limits of the earlier formulations of cultural materialism and the logic of the ‘cultural turn’.
The collection brings together a group of key international scholars whose work has played a leading role in debates in and across the fields of history, visual culture studies, anthropology, geography, cultural studies, museum studies, and literary studies.
Material Powers Introduction Patrick Joyce and Tony Bennett Part 1: A History of the Categories 1. Matter and Materialism: A Brief Prehistory of the Present John Frow 2. Locating Matter: The Place of Materiality in Urban History Chris Otter 3. The Matter of Materialism: Literary Mediations Bill Brown Part 2: Assembling the State 4. The Unintended State Chandra Mukerji 5. Filing the Raj: Political Technologies of the Imperial British State Patrick Joyce 6. Abstraction, Materiality and the ‘Science of the Concrete’ in Engineering Practice Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox Part 3: Colonial Materialities 7. Camerawork as Technical Practice in Colonial India Christopher Pinney 8. Exploring the Senses and Exploiting the Land : Railroads, Bodies and Measurement in Nineteenth-Century French Colonies Nélia Dias 9. Making and Mobilising Worlds: Assembling and Governing the Other Tony Bennett