Summer School 2019
The intensive course “Posthuman Knowledge(s)” offers an overview of contemporary debates around the ‘posthuman turn’, in the framework of Braidotti’s brand of critical theory.
It explores the implications of the posthuman convergence of posthumanism and postanthropocentrism for the constitution of subjectivity, the production of knowledge and the practice of the academic humanities. How can scholarship in the critical humanities move beyond the old dualities in which Man/Anthropos defined himself, beyond the hierarchical production of sexualized, racialized and naturalized others as excluded from humanity ? To what extent do current posthuman forms of knowledge critique anthropocentrism and Eurocentric humanism?
In 2019, Braidotti’s intensive course will focus on “Posthuman Knowledge(s)” , which is also the title of Braidotti’s new monograph, published by Polity Press. The other textbook that will be adopted for the course is The Posthuman Glossary (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018).
The aim of this interdisciplinary course is to offer a critical overview of the contemporary scholarship dealing with the applications and implications of the ‘posthuman turn,’ for knowledge production and research, notably in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The posthuman turn is defined as the convergence, within the context of advanced or cognitive capitalism, of post-humanism on the one hand and post-anthropocentrism on the other. Although these two lines of critical thought often overlap, they are rather distinct phenomena both in terms of their theoretical genealogies and in their practical applications. Their current convergence is triggering a number of qualitative developments of a very original nature, which we will try to study.
A related aim of the course is to introduce the participants to Braidotti’s specific brand of neo-materialist, critical posthuman theory. This theory rests on two main concepts: the emphasis on the embodied and embedded, relational and affective structure of subjectivity and the grounded and accountable nature of knowledge claims. These aspects will be connected through the emphasis on perspectival politics of locations on the one hand and affirmative ethics on the other. To strengthen this aspect of the course, participants will be required to read Braidotti’s The Posthuman (Polity Press, 2013) prior to the start of the course.
In order to evaluate posthuman knowledge(s), the course will present, explore and assess the defining features of a selected number of fields within the fast-growing Posthumanities, such as the Environmental, Digital and Medical Humanities, asking questions such as: what is the object of enquiry of these emergent areas of research? What is the knowing subject of the Posthumanities? How do these new fields of knowledge affect the constitution of subjectivity and practice of academic research today? Mindful of the differences in power and access that structure the debate on the posthuman, we will also investigate how posthuman knowledge(s) can assist us in moving beyond the patterns of exclusion of the sexualized, racialized and naturalized “others” that were not recognized as belonging to humanity and were also disqualified as subjects of knowledge. Special attention will also be given to the continuing efforts to learn to think beyond anthropocentrism.
Next to outlining the main features of the Posthumanities, the course will also endeavour to present in a collaborative fashion – through panels and tutorials – a selection of concrete case-studies drawn from the Environmental, Digital and Medical Humanities. These cases will be presented by teams of participating scholars from a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary areas of research, notably: literature and animal studies, pedagogy, media and technology studies, legal theory, philosophy and the arts. Throughout the course, special efforts will be made to highlight the crucial contribution of art practices to all areas of posthuman scholarship and research.