Panel 27

Critical posthumanism: interrogating cyborg imaginaries, practices and politics

Organizers: Erika Cudworth (1); Delia Langstone (2)

1: De Montfort University, UK, United Kingdom; 2: University of East London

Topics: Ecological transitions and climate justice; Technoscientific promises, imaginaries and expectations; Sociotechnologies of (in)secure worlds to come; Technofeminism and interspecies solidarities

Keywords: cyborg, interspecies, posthumanism, technoscience

There are many posthumanisms. Posthumanism is an elastic term that has varied understandings, meanings and deployments. It can be considered as a form of critical enquiry. While critical thought has been concerned with questions of exclusion of various kinds, it has tended to concentrate on human interactions. Critical posthumanist thought however, seeks to extend the area of social enquiry to all that lives. Posthumanism provides a challenge to our perceptions of what it means to be human on a planet containing a multitude of other forms of life. ‘This shift in the social and individual perception of the human’, Francesca Ferrando (2016, 168) argues, ‘is one of the most important challenges we are facing as a species, as individuals, as moral, ethical and social beings’. While not wanting to reject all of the potentially progressive elements of humanism, critical posthumanists reject this central separation of the human species from other species and the rest of nature. This is often described as human exceptionalism, succinctly defined by Donna Haraway (2008, 11) as ‘the premise that humanity alone is not a spatial and temporal web of interspecies dependencies’. Hence a prime feature of posthumanist work has been to de-centre the human by asserting that how we act cannot be abstracted from the ecology in which we exist.

Posthumanist influenced work is a new but rapidly growing area across disciplines, and has engaged with a variety of issues. This panel is open to the consideration of a range of posthuman imaginaries. It is concerned with the nature of technoscientific futures and their ethical and political critiques. It seeks to examine critical posthumanist perspectives on the mutliple crises the planet and its pluriverse of species and their ways of being, confront. The panel considers the ways posthumanist theory and empirical research might illuminate our understanding of and possible responses to exclusions, extractions and explusions; to various kinds of existential threat. The panel considers the practices and politics of technonaturecultures, and their embedding in intraspecies assemblages, spaces and relationalities. In addition, the panel seeks positive intervention for most sustainable futures and liveable worlds in terms of  posthumanist allyship, solidarities and communities.

Posthumanist influenced work is a new but rapidly growing area across disciplines, and has engaged with a variety of issues. This panel invites abstract proposals including, but not limited to:

  • Posthuman imaginaries
  • Critiques of technoscientific futures
  • Critical posthumanism and existential threat
  • The practices and politics of technonaturecultures
  • Intraspecies assemblages, spaces, relationalities
  • Posthumanist approaches to exclusions, expulsions and extractions
  • Posthumanist allyship, solidarities and communities