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Since they arose, the social sciences have tried to liberate themselves from the natural sciences. This opened up space for social science research, but left us ill-equipped to address the material dimension of social life. In this AISSR Lecture, Professors Annemarie Mol and Maria Kaika shared their insights on how to better understand the role of materials in social science research.
Event details of Materialities in social science research: two lectures, one conversation 
21 March 2024
15:30 -17:00
Theatre Hall

Urban Political Ecology: Bridging Disciplines for Environmental Solutions

Maria Kaika introduced Urban Political Ecology, a framework that blends natural and social sciences. This approach aims to tackle urgent environmental challenges of our time.

Kaika discussed how this framework helps us understand various aspects of urban life, including new urbanization patterns, different ways knowledge is produced, and the complex relationships between politics, policy, and debates on urbanization and climate change. She stressed the importance of scholars addressing the reality of climate change.

Understanding Materiality through Practices

Annemarie Mol suggested focusing on practices rather than solely on materials. She believes that materials should be seen as part of a larger picture, with knowledge and actions all intertwined.

To illustrate this, she gave three examples such as using walking therapy for heart disease, the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on mood, and assessing cleanliness in urban areas. Mol emphasized the need for specific analysis in understanding these issues.


Following their presentations, Mol and Kaika discussed how to incorporate materialities into social science research.

About the speakers

Annemarie Mol is Professor of Anthropology of the Body at the University of Amsterdam.

Maria Kaika is Director of the Centre for Urban studies and Professor of Urban, Regional and Environmental Planning at the University of Amsterdam.

Prof. dr. A. (Annemarie) Mol

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body

Prof. dr. M. (Maria) Kaika

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

GPIO : Urban Planning

Roeterseilandcampus - building I (CREA)

Room Theatre Hall
Nieuwe Achtergracht 168-178
1018 WV Amsterdam