Matthew Seibert, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia (USA), discussed his edited volume Atlas of Material Worlds: Mapping the Agency of Matter (Routledge, 2021) in the Greenhouse environmental humanities book talk series on Monday, 9 May 2022, 16:00 CET.
Atlas of Material Worlds is a highly designed narrative atlas illustrating the agency of nonliving materials with unique, ubiquitous, and often hidden influence on our daily lives. Employing new materialism as a jumping-off point, it examines the increasingly blurry lines between the organic and inorganic, engaging the following questions: What roles do non-living materials play? Might a closer examination of those roles reveal an undeniable agency we have long overlooked or disregarded? If so, does this material agency change our understanding of the social structures, ecologies, economies, cosmologies, technologies, and landscapes that surround us? And, perhaps most importantly, why does material agency matter? This is the story of the world’s driest nonpolar desert, pink flamingos, and cerulean blue lithium ponds; industrial shipping logistics, pudding-like jiggling substrates, and monuments of mud; galactic bodies, radioactive sheep, and the yellowcake of uranium.
Put simply, this book dares readers to see the world anew, from material up. Atlas of Material Worlds offers this new relationship to our host environment in a time of mounting crises—accelerating climate change, ballooning socioeconomic inequality, and rising toxic nationalism—uniquely telling materialist stories for practitioners and students in landscape, architecture, and other built environment disciplines.