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Sustainability

No being today escapes being confronted with the fallout of human-induced environmental change, from ice capes melting in the Arctic, to Californian megafires, to reefs bleaching in Australia, disappearing habitats, and accelerated rates of extinction of myriad species of plants and animals. In the face of the uncertain future that unfolds in front of us, […]

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Posthuman Times

Humanist and technoscientific notions of progress have been (mis)used to classify human and nonhuman life forms into hierarchical categories, thereby reducing the complexities of life stories into a linear account of development and innovation. At the same time, critical reflections on key concepts of modernist, Eurocentric and industry-driven concepts of time and historicity and, more […]

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Anthropocene

The term “Anthropocene” designates the geological epoch in which the human (or anthropos) is seen as the primary driver of climactic, geological, and ecological change. This notion first emerges in the spring of 2000, when Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer publish a short entry in the newsletter of the International Geosphere-Biosphere in which they make a brief but […]

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Feminism

“[F]eminism is not a humanism”, states Rosi Braidotti in her article “Four Theses on Posthuman Feminism”.[1] The argument might seem obscure, when considering feminism’s claims for equality between differently gendered, racialised and classed people (to mention just a few variables of social division). Braidotti contends that ties between liberal and socialist feminism and Enlightenment-based humanism do appear, […]

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Speciesism

The term ‘speciesism’ first appeared in 1970 on a printed pamphlet made by psychologist Richard Ryder for a protest against animal experimentation [1] and refers to discrimination on the grounds of belonging to a certain species. Thus, speciesism includes the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals based solely on their species membership. […]

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Meaning

Working through questions of human/nonhuman similarity and difference from a critical posthumanist perspective involves rethinking concepts of meaning. Meaningful experience is widespread throughout the nonhuman animal world, ranging far beyond its iterations in human thought and language. There are significant differences, however, among forms of meaning-making, and these differences have to be accounted for within […]

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New Materialism(s)

“New materialism” is a term coined in the 1990s to describe a theoretical turn away from the persistent dualisms in modern and humanist traditions whose influences are present in much of cultural theory.[1] The discourses catalogued under new materialism(s) share an agenda with posthumanism in that they seek a repositioning of the human among nonhuman […]

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Agency

  In a newly published textbook on gender studies and materialism, agency is defined as “the ability to act in such a way as to produce particular results”.[1] The entry explains that while most social theory attributes agency only to humans, posthumanist theorists tend to emphasise the agency and responsiveness of nonhuman and matter. The […]

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European Posthumanism

by Stefan Herbrechter, Manuela Rossini, and Ivan Callus An earlier and longer version of this entry was first published in the European Journal of English Studies; available here. It might at first glance seem that the phrase ‘European posthumanism’ is a contradiction in terms. Is Europe not that venerable, somewhat ‘nostalgic’ entity or idea that has never […]

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Plants

  In Plant Studies, especially its critical branch, the most recent empirical evidence is used to show the sophisticated ways that plants go about their lives. Challenging traditional zoocentric perceptions of plants as passive objects, such research reveals that plants are dynamic and sentient beings capable of responding to environmental stimuli such as touch, temperature, […]

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