WORKSHOP "PROPERTIES OF THE (POST)HUMAN) @ DGFA 2023 IN ROSTOCK
June 1-3, 2023
This workshop invites papers that critically examine the nexus of the (post)human(ist) subject, land, and property from differing positionalities and within various approaches, including Black studies, Indigenous studies, ecocriticism, feminism, queer studies, and posthumanism. We particularly welcome papers that set these approaches in conversation, both by tracing incommensurabilities and by pointing to productive overlaps.
Conceptions of the humanist subject frequently portray an agentic self with the capacities of ownership—both of self and of property. In North America, this notion of property has most crucially been formed through settler colonialism’s positing of land as property and in slavery’s positioning of Black people outside/at the limits of the category of the human and as property of the white subject. Despite important differences between approaches in Black and Indigenous studies, both fields have advanced a thorough critique of the humanist subject thus conceived. As Robyn Maynard writes in an exchange of letters with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, “the massive destruction, gendered and murderous, of (Indigenous) human life and land dispossession; the commodification, exploitation, and fungibility of (Black) human life; and the relentless expropriation and destruction of non-human nature are inextricably linked: a disregard for all living things except for their value as property to be accumulated” (Rehearsals for Living 23-24). As the latter quote suggests, the nexus between what is framed as a/the subject, land, and property has likewise been central to feminist and ecocritical critiques; it is also implied in postcolonialism’s focus on mapping and othering as combined colonial strategies, and it is visible in posthumanism’s frequent use of spatial metaphors in its deconstruction of the human.
While the overcoming of the humanist subject is often understood as the central domain of posthumanism, scholars working within its context have struggled to deconstruct the division between the human and non-human in a way that does not merely exchange “one kind of universalism for another” (Batzke, Hess and Espinoza Garrido, “Life Writing in the Posthuman Anthropocene” 6), thus “engendering new forms of inhumanity” (Braidotti, The Posthuman 3). This struggle includes coming to terms with how advanced capitalist forces produce “perverse” forms of the posthuman (Braidotti The Posthuman 7), which, according to Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, frame ‘human,’ ‘non-human’ and ‘land’ as mere mobile and interchangeable assets within the capitalist logics of extraction, exploitation and consumption (cf. The Mushroom 5-6; cf. Liboiron, Pollution is Colonialism 6). Tiffany Lethabo King argues that posthuman discourse needs to address how these histories and the present of colonial modernity have both shaped the humanist subject and continue to linger in its posthuman revision, which often relies on a “genocidal process of disavowal” and a subsequent appropriation and “rediscovery” of Indigenous (and other non-Western) worldviews (King and Wilderson, “Staying Ready” 58). King’s intervention connects a thorough critique of the humanist subject to an obligation to address this disavowal in posthumanist thought.
Short abstracts can be sent to Jens Temmen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nicole Waller (email@example.com).