Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Approaches to New Materialism and Ecological Politics

College of Philosophy and Sociology
8th Floor, Main Building
Beijing Normal University
Monday September 26, 2016


The rise of “New Materialisms” (NM) and “Object Oriented Ontologies” (OOO) in western theory have together occasioned a rethinking of the fundamental divide between human and non-human worlds. At the same time, when agency is understood as arising from a network of relations that straddles the conventional Cartesian divide between subject and object, human and non-human, this also raises questions of subjectivity and value that have important consequences for political philosophy, especially notions of liberal democracy founded upon the presupposition of the autonomous rational individual. These questions and challenges are particularly relevant in an era of ecological crisis in which human activity heralds radical challenges to climate and biosphere, exacerbating the potential for both geopolitical conflict and social stresses within the conventional borders of nation states.

Cross-Disciplinary Method

The workshop features presentations from Whitney Bauman and James Miller that address issues of ecological value, justice and agency. Bauman presents from the perspective of study of religion and nature in contemporary Western theory. Miller presents from the perspective of Chinese theories of the body in relation to ecological politics. Following their presentations, scholars working cross-culturally in  theories of the body/gender and political philosophy offer responses and/or commentary that aim to draw connections broadly relevant to issues of social justice and political theory. In the afternoon,  scholars present on related themes from a contemporary Chinese context.


9:00am  Whitney Bauman, Florida International University, USA. Comparative Methods in Spatial Approaches to Religions. Chair: Robin Celikates. Respondents: Zairong Xiang and Tom Wang

10:30am Tea Break

10:45am James Miller, Queen’s University, Canada. The Political Ecology of the Daoist Body. Chair: Zairong Xiang. Respondents: Robin Wang and Robin Celikates

12:30 Lunch

14:30 Li Jianhui, Beijing Normal University, China. Confucian Self and Human Dignity. Chair: Whitney Bauman

15:30 Wu Yujun, Beijing Normal University, China. The Modern Chinese Cultural Identity in the Context of Globalization. Chair: James Miller

16:30 General Discussion