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Critical Posthumanism

  This entry originally appeared in Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova, eds., Posthuman Glossary (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). Reproduced with permission. Critical posthumanism is a theoretical approach which maps and engages with the “ongoing deconstruction of humanism”.[1] It differentiates between the figure of the ‘posthuman’ (and its present, past and projected avatars, like cyborgs, monsters, […]

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Ecohauntology

In November 2020, thousands of mink rose from their shallow mass grave on Western Jutland, Denmark. Having been labelled ‘mutant mink’, that is, carriers of a mutation of Covid-19 that can transfer between mink and humans, the mink had been put down and buried, only to rise again as the gasses from their decomposing bodies […]

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DeLillo’s (The) Silence

The capitalised definite article in the title above is in brackets because it wants to connect two things: it refers to the title of Don DeLillo’s latest novella – The Silence,[1] but also echoes some more general claims regarding literature, posthumanism and silence by using DeLillo as an “example”. In doing so, it follows up […]

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Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian

Writing Nature Between Orphism and Prometheanism in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian Judge Holden, to cite W. Oliver Baker, easily ranks amongst the ‘the most engrossing and violent characters of American literature’.[1] A central character in Cormac McCarthy’s 1985 novel Blood Meridian, Or the Evening Redness in the West, Judge Holden accompanies the Glanton gang—a group […]

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Critique

Are “we” living in postcritical times? And if so, is this a problem for a posthumanism that calls itself “critical” and is thus heavily invested in critique? Teachers in schools and universities all over the world have been complaining that their students are becoming more and more uncritical in their thinking.[1] How are we “to […]

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Lady Gaga performing with the sound reactive mask made by Smooth Technology in collaboration with Diego Montoya. Screenshot from her 2020 VMA performance.
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Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga’s work demonstrates an intriguing mix of elements from within posthumanism, as her work seems to destabilise a number of humanist, binary categories including human and machine, human and animal, subject and object, self and other and male and female. In some ways, Gaga embodies what we might consider the figures of the posthuman […]

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Deep-Sea Mining

From countering the idea that “nothing could live in the deep sea” to exploration of the deepest parts of all of the world’s oceans, deep-sea mining (DSM) is the latest technological evolution in deep-ocean exploration. In this brief immersion into DSM, I discuss how a posthumanist new materialism provides a relational lens through which to […]

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Animality and Blackness

In an interview published in 2015, Sylvia Wynter concludes her discussion of the history of Western humanism with the suggestion that “humanness is no longer a noun. Being human is a praxis”.[1] This idea of humanness (and non-humanness) as praxis is one that critical posthumanism has embraced on multiple fronts, attempting to deconstruct liberal humanism’s […]

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Blade Runner: 2049 and Biotechnology

Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner: 2049 (2017), the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), explores many of the same topics, including the development of advanced biotechnology and the (in)ability to distinguish between humans and bioengineered replicants. Like Scott’s Blade Runner, Villeneuve’s 2049 considers how ‘human’ and ‘nonhuman’ identity is constructed. Because replicants’ physical appearances do […]

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Derrida and Posthumanism (II): The Animality of the Trace

This post is part two of a three part series. Read part one here. Jacques Derrida’s marathon lecture on ‘L’animal que donc je suis’ for the décade (ten-day conference) on ‘L’animal autobiographique’ at Cerisy-la-Salle in July 1997[1] can be seen retrospectively to have marked the ‘official’ entry of his work into posthumanism, within which it […]

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