This issue opens an inquiry into the tension between solidity and fluidity. This tension is ingrained in the Western intellectual tradition and informs theoretical debates across the sciences and humanities. In physics, solid is one phase of matter, alongside liquid, gas and plasma. This, however, assumes all matter to be particulate. Reversing the relation between statics and dynamics, we argue to the contrary, that matter exists as continuous flux. It is both solid and fluid. What difference would it make were we to start from our inescapable participation in a world of solid fluids? Is solid fluidity a condition of being in the midst of things, or of intermediacy on a solid-fluid continuum? Does the world appear fluid in the process of its formation, but solid when you look back on things already formed? Here we open new paths for theorizing matter and meaning at a time of ecological crisis.
Bibliographical noteOpen Access Approved under Sage OA Agreement
The articles making up this special issue were first presented and discussed at the workshop ‘Solid Fluids: New Approaches to Matter and Meaning’, held in August 2018 at the University of Aberdeen, as part of the four-year project (2015–19) ‘Solid Fluids in the Anthropocene’, funded by the British Academy under its International Partnership and Mobility Scheme (for more information, see www.solidfluids.org). We are grateful to the Academy for its support, and to all the workshop participants, including several who –for different reasons – were unable to contribute to this collection. They include Mike Anusas, Matt Edgeworth, Enrico Marcore, Elishka Stirton and Judith Winter. We also thank the editors of Theory, Culture & Society for their encouragement, and three anonymous reviewers for their generous comments.
- continuous matter