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  • Assemblage (philosophy)

    Assemblage (philosophy)


    • Assemblage is an ontological framework developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, originally presented in their book A Thousand Plateaus (1980). Assemblage theory provides a bottom-up framework for analyzing social complexity by emphasizing fluidity, exchangeability, and multiple functionalities. Assemblage theory asserts that, within a body, the relationships of component parts are not stable and fixed; rather, they can be displaced and replaced within and among other bodies, thus approaching systems through relations of exteriority

      In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari draw from dynamical systems theory, which explores the way material systems self-organize, and extends the system to include that of the social, linguistic, and philosophical in order to create assemblage theory. In assemblage theory, assemblages are formed through the processes of coding, stratification, and territorialization.

      Deleuze and Guattari use the term “constellation” when they talk about assemblage. A constellation, like any assemblage, is made up of imaginative contingent articulations among myriad heterogeneous elements. This process of ordering matter around a body is called coding. According to Deleuze and Guattari, assemblages are coded by taking a particular form; they select, compose, and complete a territory. In composing a territory, there exists the creation of hierarchical bodies, in the process of stratification. Drawing from the constellation metaphor, Deleuze and Guattari argue that the constellation includes some heavenly bodies but leaves out others; the included bodies being those in close proximity given the particular gathering and angle of view. The example constellation thus defines the relationships with the bodies in and around it, and thus demonstrates the social complexity of assemblage.

      Territorialization is another process of assemblage theory, and is viewed as the ordering of the bodies that create the “assemblage”. Assemblages territorialize both forms of content and forms of expression. Forms of content, also known as material forms, include the assemblage of human and nonhuman bodies, actions, and reactions. Forms of expression include incorporeal enunciations, acts, and statements. Within this ordering of the bodies, assemblages do not remain static; they are further characterized by processes of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. Deterritorialization occurs when articulations are disarticulated and disconnected through components "exiting" the assemblage. Reterritorialization describes the process by which new components "enter" and new articulations are forged, thus constituting a new assemblage. In this way, these axes of content/expressive and the processes of territorialization exist to demonstrate the complex nature of assemblages.



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