Peta Hinton received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of New South Wales, Australia, where she also lectured in the School of Social Sciences from 2008-2013. She currently lectures in the Gender Studies program at Utrecht University, Netherlands, and in recent years was an invited Visiting Scholar at TEMA Genus, Linkoping University, Sweden, and Gender Studies at Karlstad University, Sweden, as well as receiving an Erasmus Mundus Third Country Scholar visiting scholarship with the Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies, Utrecht University, in Spring 2012. Her research interests encompass questions of political and ethical ontology as they are positioned and complicated through (new) feminist materialist approaches to sexual difference, the posthuman, and critical practice.
She has published in Hypatia, Somatechnics, Women: A Cultural Review, and Australian Feminist Studies, as well as co-edited a journal special issue, ‘Feminist Matters: The Politics of New Materialism’ (Women: A Cultural Review, 2014, with Iris van der Tuin, Utrecht University) and a volume in the AtGender ‘Teaching With’ series, Teaching With Feminist Materialisms (2015, with Pat Treusch, Technical University, Berlin). Current projects include a reworking of a politics and ethics of life itself and sexual difference via new materialist provocations and permutations on the nature of death and nothingness (ICI Project – ‘A Sociality of Death’, 2013/16), and a collaborative exploration of how the question of race figures in new materialist discourses and critique (‘Abandonment’, with Xin Liu, Abo Akademi, Finland). With Karin Sellberg (University of Queensland, Australia) she is currently co-editing a special issue of Rhizomes on the work of Karen Barad, due for publication in Summer 2016.
A Sociality of Death:
Affirmative Futures and New Materialist
Approaches to 'Life Itself'
ICI Project 2013-16
A significant impact of recent and emerging discussions congregating under the umbrella of ‘new materialism’ arrives with the cognate claims made in this body of work for matter’s agentic and transformative capacities. Often conceived in terms of a systemic liveliness, new materialist configurings of matter disarticulate more established and binarized ways of viewing life and nature to shift the way the social is perceived and engaged. Their posthumanist and ecological commitments complicate species/specificity and disrupt the priority of the human within a dynamic and emergent socius. Nevertheless, it also appears that there is something of a neo-vitalist tenor that inflects these new materialist re-visionings of matter and, therefore, the forms of social change with which their analyses are concerned. In taking up with this possible reading of a new materialist neo-vitalism, in this project I ask how ‘the affirmative’ has been positioned alongside ‘life itself’; potentially invoking an ontology that privileges presence in affirmative terms that cannot account for death, failure, or absence in life’s constitutive and productive movements; a privileging that also orients and delimits the expectations and phrasing of new materialist politics and ethics in terms of their sought for directions, modes of transformation, and agendas for re-evaluating difference.
Putting negativity at the forefront of this analysis, I argue that matter’s talent for self immolation may be foundational to an affirmative politics, that the ethical gesture of feminist inquiry must account for the constitutive exclusions that shape the (material) specificity of its critique, and that death and nothingness, when placed at the centre of a new materialist analysis, profoundly reconceive our commitments to the (re)productive efforts of the socius. Here, also, negotiations with death might occasion a reassessment of the relational ontologies that accompany understandings of sexual difference, and open up for an inquiry into how a politics and ethics of sexual indifference im/materialize.