Entanglement and relation: A response to Bruno Latour and Ian Hodder

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Philosophy Department

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Research Article

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New Literary History

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In this article Graham Harman responds to pieces by the philosopher of science Bruno Latour and the archaeologist Ian Hodder in the same issue of New Literary History. A brief summary is given of Latour's intellectual career, including his recent transition from actor-network theory to the "modes of existence" project. An asymmetry in Latour's approach is also identified: though he abolishes both nature and culture as distinct realms of being, he retains and expands the "foritself" of culture even while abolishing the "in-itself" of nature. An opposite problem is identified in Hodder's approach, which takes account of the virtue of the nonrelationality of things, but which retains the very nature/culture dualism that Latour had succeeded in dismantling. This leads Hodder in the direction of an untenable politics guided by the model of prehistoric humans uncontaminated by excessive dependence on things.

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