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Wednesday, December 4 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
KEYNOTE: Professor Ian Buchanan

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Expressive Materialism

Assemblage theory, more so than most theories it seems, is subject to several misconceptions, which weigh it down, and prevent it from being developed into a method. One of the most pernicious of these misconceptions is the tendency to treat the concept of the assemblage as a material thing, something that is cobbled together from random bits of material like a potluck dinner or a patchwork quilt. There is a common sense quality to the idea that the assemblage is something assembled from miscellaneous things that is difficult to argue with because the very word assemblage seems to be saying precisely and completely obviously that. Yet if that’s all it is saying then it is saying very little. If assemblages are simply any ad hoc grouping of things it is difficult to see the utility of the concept, save that it names randomly formed entities. To my way of thinking, this model of the assemblage is like a souffle that has failed to rise and it is our job to ask why it falls flat, to see what is missing in its formulation, and use that to deepen our understanding of Deleuze and Guattari’s version of the concept. My contention is that it falls flat because we try to see it as a fully formed thing, whereas for Deleuze and Guattari is an emergent thing, like a little ditty, something you whistle to yourself and improvise as you go along. It is the kernel of idea that may or may not come to fruition. It contains its own logic, but it is always contingent upon circumstances. But more than that, its purpose is to give expression to something that is otherwise unable to be expressed. Assemblage theory tends to overlook this aspect of the assemblage, which is another reason it falls flat. I want to breathe life back into the concept by developing an account of it as a form of what I will call ‘expressive materialism’, which I want to suggest will be of use to sociology now and in the future as it confronts an increasingly complex and multi-tiered global society.

Keynotes
avatar for Professor Ian Buchanan

Professor Ian Buchanan

University of Wollongong
Ian Buchanan is professor of cultural studies at the University of Wollongong. He is the founding editor of Deleuze and Guattari Studies and the author of Assemblage Theory and Method (Bloomsbury) the Oxford Dictionary of Critical Theory (OUP).


Wednesday December 4, 2019 2:00pm - 3:00pm
201N-346 - HSB1 10 Symonds Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland, New Zealand