This summer I’ll be launching a series of pilot workshops as part of the Creative Posthumanism project, including sessions on zine-making, scrapbooking, and performance art. More news on these sessions will follow soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share a little bit about the rationale behind the project. Humanistic principles underpin key discourses in biology (we are individual entities), psychology (we are individual actors), economics (we are rational actors), law (we are responsible for our actions), art (we are individual authors of human stories), AI research (the goal is to produce computers which “think like us”), medicine (there is a clear idea of a healthy human which we should aim to remain in line with), and ecology (the earth should be optimised for human habitation). In many of these areas, however, the centrality of such thought is being questioned. Critical posthumanism is an academic field of inquiry that deconstructs the human (and humanitarian) impacts of these liberal humanist systems and institutions, particularly in the ways that they have been accelerated and exacerbated by advancing technologies.
Readers of this blog are warmly encouraged to consider submitting an abstract to this edited collection, which is seeking chapters by artists and makers, as well as scholars of all backgrounds. I have worked with both the collection editors (Matthew Hayler and Christine Daigle) and the series editors (Matthew Hayler and Danielle Sands) in relation to my work with the Critical Posthumanism Network, and highly recommend the experience!
“It matters what ideas we use to think other ideas.” This claim by Marilyn Strathem is quoted and given many variations in Donna Haraway’s Staying With the Trouble (2016). Ideas are assemblages that emerge from the various entanglements in which we exist and that constantly shape what we are and can be. Ideas spring from the dynamic material engagments humans have with one another and with the other beings and objects in our worlds. Therefore, our manner of engaging, the very practices we adopt to think, feel, experience, and theorise our entanglements, matter a great deal. As Karen Barad famously posited, “knowing does not come from standing at a distance and representing but rather from a direct material engagement with the world” (2007, 49): the ways in which we engage determine our knowing.
Critical posthumanism seeks to challenge contemporary anthropocentric and Humanist worldviews, and to establish new ways to conceive of ourselves and the environments and relationships in which we arc enmeshed. It has become clear that new thoughts and actions are needed as posthumanism demonstrates its usefulness. For this to be possible, we need to engage in thinking differently, shaking off old habits, embracing new methodologies, and rediscovering, or listening for the first time, to what has come before, or is going on right now, in other disciplines, cultures, and the actions of humans and non-humans. Putting posthumanism into practice, in short, demands exploratory, attentive, and speculative ventures that may, as yet, be unconventional in an academic setting, but generate new ideas and ways of acting. Posthumanism in practice also seeks to create ways and objects of knowing co-produced across the arts, humanities, and sciences, across sectors, disciplines, practitioners, and species. It asks: how is your practice, whatever your field of activity, transformed when enlivened by posthumanist ideas?
This excursion report was first shared on the Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar (CRECS) blog. You can find the original post here. On 1 March, 2015 the Walpole Trust reopened Strawberry Hill House to the public. As the former home of Horace Walpole, famed (and famously eccentric) author of the first Gothic novel, the house has been … Read more
This week a lot of work has gone into the Fantasies of Contemporary Culture symposium that I’m organising with Tom Harman. The event will take place at Cardiff University on 23 May, and the programme and registration will hopefully go live sometime next week. Today, the finishing touches have been put to the event poster … Read more