Tropical Materialisms: Toward Decolonial Poetics, Practices and Possibilities


  • Christian Jil R. Benitez Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines & Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  • Anita Lundberg James Cook University, Australia



Tropical Materialisms, Animist materialism, ontological turn, Material Poetics, decolonization, poiesis, new materialism, posthumanism


Tropical Materialisms concur on at least three things: humans are always entangled with non-human/material agents; such entanglement is necessary for any creative act to take place; and these same entanglements allow us to interrogate and re-evaluate preconceived notions about the world. This Special Issue aligns itself with the fields of new materialism and posthumanism. What is particularly exciting is the opportunity to rearticulate these fields in tropical terms, that is, with scholarly and creative practices from and about the tropical world. This focus is crucial given that current scholarship in new materialism and posthumanism predominantly comes from European temperate contexts and is informed by Western philosophies. In order to decolonize the ontological turn, this Special Issue recognises not only that colonial knowledge systems impacted the tropics, but also that matter’s liveliness was and is well understood in Indigenous cosmologies, ancient philosophies and ‘animist materialism’. The papers collected together in this special issue offers materialisms informed by decolonizing intuitions. They variously demonstrate how the tropics, as geographic zone and as pertaining to poetics (via "tropes"), can theoretically inform and historically problematise new materialism and posthumanism. They offer new vocabularies through which discourses on "tropical materialism" may be initiated; and a cartography of practices across disciplinary fields which demonstrate what this "tropical materialism" may be. The Special Issue collection it itself a form of poiesis: a creative engagement with the world.

Author Biographies

Christian Jil R. Benitez, Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines & Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Christian Jil Benitez teaches Filipino at Ateneo de Manila University where he earned an AB-MA in Filipino literature. He is currently doing his PhD at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. Hailed as Poet of the Year 2018 by the Commission on the Filipino Language, his critical and creative works on time, tropicality, and materiality have appeared in Katipunan, Kritika Kultura, Philippine Studies, and eTropic, among others. His first book, Isang Dalumat ng Panahon, a treatise on Filipino time, is published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press. He lives in Rizal, the Philippines.

Anita Lundberg, James Cook University, Australia

Associate Professor Anita Lundberg is a cultural anthropologist whose ethnographies engage people, places and material cultures of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Her works arise from interdisciplinary theories including rhizomatics, material poetics, tropical imaginaries, myths, liminality, tropical gothic and flanerie. Sites of analysis include Singapore city, cinema, a Malay house, a whale hunting village in Indonesia, street art in Bali, climate change, the environment, and education.  Anita has received awards for research supervision and innovative research and has held international fellowships: LIA TransOceanik (CNRS, Collége de France, JCU); The Cairns Institute (TCI); Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cambridge University, UK; Guest Researcher, Maison Asie-Pacifique, Université de Provence, France; Visiting Fellow, Institute of the Malay World and Civilization, National University Malaysia. She has also been an Anthropologist-in-Residence at Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia. She has curated exhibitions in NY, LA, Paris and Sydney and her own research, theoretical, and artistic works have been exhibited at the Australian National Maritime Museum, the National Art Gallery of Malaysia and Alliance de Française. Anita has a PhD from the University of New South Wales, Australia and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow with Cambridge University, UK. She has an MA in Science and Technology Studies. Anita lives in Bali.


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How to Cite

Benitez, C. J. R., & Lundberg, A. (2022). Tropical Materialisms: Toward Decolonial Poetics, Practices and Possibilities. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 21(2), 1–20.