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.
Humanistic systems have shaped the world we live in today, but their logics have not been equally beneficial to everyone. What are the motivations for this posthumanising process and when did it start? What are its implications for marginalised humans, and for nonhuman others (the environment, animals, machines)? Critical posthumanism proposes that even as we are considering new advances for humanity, it is crucial to continually re-examine their old foundational logics. For instance, technology is more than just gadgets—it is all the things we make, and build, and use to communicate. Among other things, critical (and creative) posthumanism is also interested in expanding how we think about science and tech.
For this project we explicitly extend our definition of ‘the critical’ to include certain forms of creative artistic expression and practice, terming this approach ‘creative posthumanism’. For now, the Creative Posthumanism project is interested in exploring creative expressions of critical posthumanism locally, in Hampshire. It aims to establish a network of thinkers, makers, and creatives in this and surrounding areas who are working towards similar goals. The project is funded by the Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities (SIAH), as well as the University of Southampton’s Interdisciplinary Research Pump-Priming Fund, and hopes to attract funding from other sources in the near future. We are also working closely with colleagues at the University of Birmingham, and the ‘Posthumanism in Practice’ series co-convened by Dr Matt Hayler.