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Political Science in Europe

New Materialism and Latin-American Constitutionalism: A Linguistic Encounter?

Political Methodology
Political Theory
Critical Theory
Gonzalo Bustamante
Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez
Gonzalo Bustamante
Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez

In the last years, from the works of Bennett, Wolfe, Coole, Barad, Braidotti and Frost (among others), a new materialist current seeks to generate, firstly, a non-anthropocentric and posthuman ontology, and then, an epistemology that surpasses the linguistic comprehension of social-reality through the interaction of human and non-human agents. The political agency would even be possible in neither animal nor vegetal entities. An author like Barad will see in quantum physics the possibility of going beyond mechanistic physics, under which, politics and modern economics, have both been articulated, centered on the human-subject as the sole agent.
This new materialism will imply a substantive critique of theories such as those of Koselleck, Skinner and, Foucault himself, as far as being encapsulated in proclaiming language as the vehicle for approaching social reality and political agency. There would be, in them, a neglect of the need to refer to the existing interrelation between material realities. For this new materialistic trend, the subject of the history would be the matter and its possibilities of interaction; not the human being and his language.
The new materialism would aspire, not only to overcome society from its structuring in individuals (liberalism), but also, in the same idea of the polis, based in the ζῷον λόγοϛ ἔχων of Aristotle and Tönnies’s Gemeinschaft (anthropocentric communitarianism), to understand, from quantum physics, the phenomenon of what communally exists, but beyond human life.
Not few have expressed their skepticism in respect to the epistemological pretensions as well as the consequences of a political theory understood from beyond life, but from the existence of the entities. Nevertheless, in non-Eurocentric constitutional forms, such as those in Bolivia and Ecuador, where an idea of law and individuals implying nonhuman rights is collected, there could be an example of the possibilities of meetings between concepts (non-European) and the proposals of a new materialism to structure a political-constitutional order. That is to say, non-European political languages would be coupled in more than one point with the proposals of the new materialism.
In this paper I will address the extent to which recent Latin American constitutionalism does not imply a conceptualization of law itself, compatible with the proposals of the new materialism. If so, the incompatibility between the new materialism and the comprehension of reality from language, is only so as far as the latter (language) is understood eurocentrically.
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