Latour's object-orientated politics for a post-political age

Tsouvalis, Judith (2015) Latour's object-orientated politics for a post-political age. Global Discourse, 6 (1-2). pp. 26-39. ISSN 2326-9995

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What, for Latour, does politics mean? Or, to be more precise, what being for Latour is political – who or what is his political subject? To try and answer these questions, this article compares two strands of thinking concerned with the nature of politics and the political: Latour’s Dingpolitik or object-orientated politics and post-foundational political writings on the post-political condition. Both Latour and critics of the post-political condition hold that the excluded and suppressed come back to haunt their suppressors, shattering illusions of Modernity and neoliberal, cosmopolitan ideals. In both accounts, the excluded hold the key to political change. However, while post-political discourse relies heavily on an abstract, universalized, absent human subject as the agent of emancipatory political change, for Latour the excluded that undermine Modernity’s dichotomous constitution are the multiple beings and things that bring reality forth – concrete, variously entangled, translated and translating, mediated and mediating actants; quasi-objects, or, as he also calls them, mediators. Bringing these two different ways of thinking about politics and the political alongside each other I aim to show that Latour’s ontologically grounded conception of politics has far greater transformative potential than the proposals found in post-foundational accounts of the post-political condition. These writings, in spite of their emancipatory intent, tend to remain at the level of critique while falling short of a vision for concrete, pragmatic proposals of how to compose a better common world.

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Journal Article
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Global Discourse
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19 May 2023 10:20
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17 Sep 2023 03:26