Seth Rockman recently published, "Der alte und der neue Materialismus in der Geschichte der Sklaverei" (in German), a volume derived from his previous talk which considers the implications of 'new materialism' for the history of slavery and the field of general labor history.
An expansion of a lecture Rockman delivered in Berlin in 2020, this small volume focuses attention on the insights gained by approaching the history of slavery and plantation labor through a theoretical apparatus organized around human/non-human entanglements and the agential power of things. So-called more-than-human histories can compensate for the inadequacies of a flawed colonial (and continuously colonizing) archive that mutes Black subjectivity and reproduces the violence of slavery itself. At the same time, the interpretive moves associated with New Materialism come with risks of their own, especially the decentering of the human precisely the moment when Black humanity struggles for recognition and respect in the academy and beyond. The essay draws on Rockman’s research on plantation spaces in the nineteenth-century United States to locate work processes in the relationship of the maker and the material, in the tacit and bodily knowledge that governs human activity, and in the sensory and haptic encounter of the human and the non-human.
The essay also emerged from a graduate seminar taught by Rockman in 2019 at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown called "Slavery’s New Materialism."