Tag Archives: William E. Connolly

Books of the decade in ecocultural theory

Screen shot from the blog “immanence” by Adrian J Ivakhiv

On his blog “immanence“, Adrian J Ivakhiv,  proposes an interesting list of the “books of the decade in ecocultural theory”. Please, check the whole list at his blog.

The three first books are by (1) William E. Connolly on Neuropolitics, (2) Arturo Escobar on social movements and ecological-cultural dynamics, and (3) Graham Harman on Latour and metaphysics.

He also lists several other interesting books that did not make it to the top ten, including books by Bruce Braun, Sarah Whatmore, Alf Hornborg, Donna Haraway, Tim Ingold, Bruno Latour, Doreen Massey, and John Law amongst several others.

Here follows the top three, including Adrian’s personal motivation:

The Immanence ‘Top 10′

1. William E. Connolly, Neuropolitics: Thinking, Culture, Speed (University of Minnesota Press, 2002) — This was the book that most coherently and provocatively connected together the entire set of interests I had been grappling with at the time — consciousness, neuroscience, affect/emotion, religious experience, the potentials of film and media, and, centrally, the possibilities for political and cultural change in our time. Connolly’s work in political theory has continually pushed far beyond the bounds of that field. While his Pluralism and the forthcoming A World of Becoming may signify a certain fruition of his thinking, his articulation of the thickly entwined interconnections between biology and culture in Neuropolitics, under the rubric of “immanent naturalism,” provocatively set out a range of avenues of exploration, which this blog has been active in pursuing and documenting.

2. Arturo Escobar, Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes (Duke University Press, 2008) — A tremendous synthesis that places social movements — actual people doing things together to change their worlds — at the center of thinking for how the ecological-cultural dynamic is changing in our time. Other books of environmental anthropology (by Anna Tsing, Paige West, and others) and of political ecology (by Paul Robbins, Biersack and Greenberg, and others) could be on this list, but Escobar engages conversations across these fields and others in the most provocative and satisfying ways.

3. Graham Harman, Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (re.press, 2009) — While Harman’s Tool-Being and Guerrilla Metaphysics may be his more lasting philosophical contributions, this book, which first brought anthropologist of science Bruno Latour firmly into the ambit of philosophy, introduced me — and judging by internet activity, many others — to the growing movement of post-Continental-philosophical “speculative realism.” As a movement that tries to theorize the make-up of the world in ways that completely avoid traditional dualisms (culture/nature, society/ecology, etc.), it’s a breath of fresh philosophical air, and one that has influenced the development of this blog much more than I could have known when I started it.

In presenting his blog, Adrian’s writes:

[The blog is an] online space for environmental cultural theory, this weblog has two primary objectives: (1) To communicate about issues at the intersection of ecological, political, and cultural thought and practice [... and] (2) To contribute to the development of a non-dualist understanding of nature/culture, mind/body, spirit/matter, structure/agency, and worldly relations in general.