Author:Martina Erlemann (Freie Universität Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
In the debates about risks of nanomaterials the discourse converges into an intractable conflict of what a nanomaterial is or how it is to be defined. The paper offers an onto-epistemological re-reading of this case within agential realism for a better understanding of this controversy.
Paper long abstract:
In the debates about potential health and environmental risks of nanomaterials which are built into various consumer products, a heterogeneous range of different political, scientific, media, citizen, industrial actors take up their stance. Being based on different rationalities of arguing, on different epistemologies and ontological premises, the discourse converges into an intractable conflict of what a nanomaterial is or how it is to be defined and classified. An onto-epistemological re-reading and re-framing of this case could offer a better understanding of this controversy. Based on the new materialist framework of agential realism, the issue of risks of nanomaterials can be elaborated beyond a mere discourse-analytical account. Material-discursive practices of nanotechnologies, especially their re/configurings and enactments, their entanglements of materiality and discourses, can be grasped as congealing in the discourses on risks of nanomaterials as their actors, knowledges and materials. In the paper it will be explored in an agential realist perspective how nano-objects and their actors come into being through the phenomena of manufacturing, producing, defining, classifying and regulating them. It will be asked how the material-discoursive intra-actions of nano-objects, political bodies, media, citizens could be described. Last not least it will be discussed why some of these phenomena of coming-into-nano-objects seem to be more successful, more influential in the controversy than others.
Political Objects. Prescriptions, Injustices and Promises of Material Agents