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Prokic, Tanja (2021): From Constellations to Assemblages: Benjamin, Deleuze and the Question of Materialism. In: Deleuze and Guattari Studies, Vol. 15, No. 4: pp. 543-570

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This essay investigates the differences and points of contact between Walter Benjamin's concept of 'constellation' (developed in various texts written between 1920 and 1940) and the notion of 'assemblage' as theorised by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Both concepts address the entanglement of discourse and matter, bodies and devices, and raise questions regarding the historicity and temporality of different kinds of multiplicity. Presently, the term 'assemblage' figures prominently in the context of the new materialism, a theoretical movement which calls for a renewal of materialist ideas, proposing a break with the historical materialism of the past. Against this backdrop, the essay has a twofold purpose: first, by focusing on the notions of constellation and assemblage, it seeks to highlight the differences and analogies between the materialisms of Benjamin, on the one hand, and Deleuze and Guattari, on the other. Second, by examining the new materialism's appropriation of Deleuzian 'assemblage theory', it will not only analyse what is 'new' about the new materialism, but also underline its conceptual errors and political problems. Eventually, what the essay argues is that our contemporary ('new materialist') understanding of assemblages might indeed benefit from a more thorough engagement with the historical materialism of an author like Benjamin.

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