Material Insurgency

Towards a Distributed Environmental Politics

By Andrew M. Rose

Subjects: Political Theory, Environmental Politics, Literary Criticism, Social Movements
Series: SUNY series in New Political Science
Hardcover : 9781438484372, 254 pages, July 2021
Paperback : 9781438484389, 254 pages, January 2022

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Table of contents



1. Climate Change Environmentalism and Distributed Politics

2. H. D. Thoreau and the Practice of Distributed Knowledges

3. Bacterial Insurgency in Karen Tei Yamashita's Through the Arc of the Rainforest

4. The Material Temporalities of Leslie Silko's Almanac of the Dead

5. (Dis)intentional Politics and Its Limits: Crisis and Innovation in Nathaniel Rich's Odds Against Tomorrow and Chang‑rae Lee's On Such a Full Sea

6. The Unknowable Now: Passionate Science and Transformative Politics in Kim Stanley Robinson's Speculative Fiction

Works Cited

Examines emerging new materialist and posthuman conceptions of subjectivity and agency, and explores their increasing significance for contemporary climate change environmentalism.


In Material Insurgency, Andrew M. Rose examines emerging new materialist and posthuman conceptions of subjectivity and agency and explores their increasing significance for contemporary climate change environmentalism. Working at the intersection of material ecocriticism, posthuman theory, and environmental political theory, Rose critically focuses on the ways social movement organizing might effectively operate within the context of distributed agency. This concept undoes the privileging of rational human actors to suggest agency is better understood as a complex mixture of human and nonhuman forces. Rose explores various representations of distributed agency, from the pipeline politics of the Keystone XL campaign to the speculative literary fiction of Leslie Marmon Silko and Kim Stanley Robinson. Each of these cultural and literary texts provides a window into the possible constitution of a (distributed) environmental politics that does not yet exist and operates as a resource for envisioning environmental actors we cannot necessarily study empirically, because they are still only a prospect, or potential, of our imagination.

Andrew M. Rose is Assistant Professor of English at Christopher Newport University.


"Material Insurgency offers a unique and valuable perspective on distributed agency and distributed environmental politics, making it an excellent resource for classes in eco-theory and social justice discourses. The text is written in an accessible language structure, which caters to both those already familiar with these academic disciplines and those willing to put in the effort to understand the theoretical foundations presented. Rose's approach of first situating the problem and establishing the conceptual framework for distributed agency through a mix of fiction and nonfiction cases results in a compelling theoretical discussion point." — H-Net Reviews (H-Environment)

"Material Insurgency identifies a set of important contributions recent environmental literature, posthumanist, and new materialist theory (respectively and in conversation) might make to environmental politics and social movements today. Focusing on the crucial question of agency, which plagues environmental action, neoliberal political life, and social theory today, Material Insurgency develops a convincing case for pursuing posthumanist, nonanthropocentric, 'distributed' models, such as those imagined in these influential works of fiction. The greatest strengths of the book are its ability to bring together these timely conversations in a series of insightful, provocative ways." — Laura Shackelford, Rochester Institute of Technology