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Meeting the Indigenous Halfway: Mary Parker Follett's New Materialist Politics

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Two challenges face new materialists today: first, how to conceive of nonhuman agency that is on par with human agency without entering the realm of fantasy; second, how to use new materialist ontologies to put into practice a concrete politics and ethics that embodies the values of pluralism, feminism, and decolonialism within new materialism. To address these issues I show how Indigenous scholar Vanessa Watts calls for new materialists to form an ontology that is not colonial or anthropocentric. I also introduce Mary Parker Follett as a pre-new materialist and her work as an example of a politics based on relational ontology, co-active power, and broad notion of agency that mirrors aspects of Indigenous politics while coming from a Western worldview. I argue that Follett can provide an important bridge between new materialism and an Indigenous politics that allows new materialists to engage with Indigenous thought in a non-colonial way.

Author(s):

Lauren Eichler    
University of Oregon
United States

 

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