Extended Deadline: July 23, 2021

SHORTER FOCUS:

“Gendered Implications of New Technologies and posthuman subjectivities: perspectives from the Global South”

 

LONGER FOCUS:

“Gendered Implications of New Technologies and posthuman subjectivities:
biology, technology, society and science – perspectives from the Global South”

Contributors are invited to submit manuscripts on the above topic from the perspective of either researchers
or activists. Abstracts and contributions must be written in English and in a style accessible to a wide audience.
Please submit abstracts to Lou Haysom: louhaysom@mweb.co.za or admin@agenda.org.za.

 

Guest editors: Ms. Clare Craighead, Drama and Production Studies Department Faculty of Arts and Design, Durban University of Technology and Ms. Princess A Sibanda, Drama and Performance Studies Department, Faculty of Arts, University of KwaZulu- Natal.

Conceptual Rationale:

In considering this call for papers, it is our intention to curate a space for a re-thinking, re-imagining, re-defining and re-situating of existing discourses around the so-called posthuman condition. Broadly, the posthuman condition is a relational and hybrid engagement (Wolfe 2010) offering an anti-anthropocentric (Heidegger 1977) and neo-materialist view that is not centred in Cartesian dualism. As a field, posthuman studies encourages creative critique through affirmative politics that positions difference positively, in pursuit of alternative ways of living together. It sits within so-called post-conventional research, which as explained by Åsberg and Braidotti (2018), is that research which already exists and thrives outside, and on the fringes of conventional scholarly comfort zones – a space that African Feminist and decolonial scholars from the Global South often occupy (Tamale 2020; Nyanzi 2014; Nyong’o 2015).

In an era of advanced postmodernity, characterised by technological advancements and increasingly mediatised lifestyles, posthuman studies is often considered with anxiety and scepticism because of its hybrid human/non human/technological intersections. As Jennifer Parker-Starbuck offers: “A proliferation of the prefix “post-“ now dots theoretical landscapes as a move beyond, or away from what it modifies, but in the new millennium, “posts” reflecting technological anxiety also seek to return towards notions of embodiment” (2011, p. 14). Thus while MacCormack signals, posthuman studies is often aligned with “the death of identity” (2012, p. 142), the field is neither post-political nor post power-politics, rather it enables multiple, plural, and often contradictory reflections and re-definitions around what it means (or might mean) to be human, with posthuman scholars commonly relying on re-negotiated notions of embodiment in their considerations and contestations.

Much scholarship in this area emanates from the Global North. However, it is our view that the de-centring of Cartesian dualisms enables much potential and possibility to both include existing African Feminist discourse and decolonial scholarship, as well as further these projects in the Global South. Roopika Risam argues: “Taking the local U.S. debate as a global one — as so often happens — elides the contexts that shape digital humanities practices in other communities” (2016, p. 362). The challenge here is to begin to re-vise, re-focus, re-frame and potentially re-situate these discourses for us in the Global South through “reflection on the plurality of circumstances that inflect local practices” (2016, p. 362).

In contexts of the Digital Humanities that combine ‘traditional humanities’ through applications of contemporary technologies and cultures, ideas of posthuman subjectivities prompt a re-thinking and simultaneous thinking through of what it is to be human. As a critical discourse, posthumanism enables multiple and plural reflections around human subjectivities in complex interrelations with nature, media, technology and material environments, among others. Through this lens, hegemonic views of man become problematised and decentred, thus enabling more inclusive ways of thinking about the world and what it means to be human in it, and perhaps too, a space to redefine this. Raewyn Connell’s Southern Theory (2007) emerges here as a powerful strategy for our potentials to engage from the other side of the digital divide in the context of posthuman geo-politics. Recent discourse (and evidence) of global digital divides also provides rich discursive terrain for such a project, into which technofeminist ideals, as they are explained by Judy Wajcman as offering “a different way of understanding the nature of agency and change in a post-industrial world, as well as the means of making a difference” (2004, p. 130), become useful points of departure.

As Deleuzian feminist, and posthuman scholar Rosi Braidotti observes, the posthuman condition prompts critical engagements of the human through an analysis of “the shifting grounds on which new, diverse and even contradictory understandings of the human are currently being generated, from a variety of sources, cultures and traditions” (2019, pp. 33-34). This echoes her placement of the posthuman as “a theoretically-powered cartographic tool that aims at achieving an adequate understanding of ongoing processes of dealing with the human in our fast-changing times” (Braidotti 2019, p. 36). As an intersectional field, Posthuman Studies includes a range of diverse, convergent and divergent fields of engagement including, but not limited to, Afrofuturisms, Posthuman Feminisms, Cyber Feminisms, Artificial Intelligence, Cosmopolitics, Geopolitics, Posthuman Ethics, Technofeminism, Posthuman Pedagogies, Transhumanism, Biological and Living Arts and Green or Environmental Humanities.

We welcome contributions that, among other things:
1. Provide perspectives on posthuman subjectivities from the Global South (with particular focus on gender and embodiment);
2. Explore, through contemporary techno/digital art mediums, questions, problems and potentials of posthuman identities (with particular focus on gender and embodiment);
3. Rupture nature/culture binaries in relation to cyborg identity and transhuman politics (with specific reference to challenging categories of sex/gender/sexualities etc.);
4. Negotiate, analyse and interrogate virtual and hyper realities in terms of posthuman discourses and practices aligned to AI, VR and related fields;
5. Articulate Southern African techno/cyber feminisms and their potentials towards addressing gendered gaps in contemporary techno-cultural spheres;
6. Reviews of Books and Films related to the field of posthuman studies;
7. Explore posthuman intersections with Afrofuturism either through literary or research
outputs;
8. Provide technofeminist explorations of posthuman politics from the Global South;
9. Provide eco-feminist explorations of posthuman politics from the Global South;
10. Explore posthuman pedagogies from the Global South.

REFERENCES
Åsberg, C & Braidotti, R (eds.) 2018, A Feminist Companion to the Posthumanities. Switzerland, Springer.
Balsamo, A 1996, Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women, Duke University Press, Durham and London.
Braidotti, R 2006, ‘Posthuman, All Too Human: Towards a New Process Ontology’, Theory,
Culture & Society, vol. 23, no. 7-8, pp. 197 208, SAGE, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi.
Braidotti, R 2019, Posthuman Knowledge, Polity Press, Cambridge. Heidegger, M 1977, The Question concerning Technology and Other Essays, Translation by William Lovitt, Harper and Row, New York.
MacCormack, P 2012, Posthuman Ethics: Embodiment and Cultural Theory, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Surrey, England and Burlington, USA.

Nyanzi, S 2014, ‘Queering Queer Africa’, in Z Matabeni (ed.) Reclaiming Afrikan: Queer perspectives on sexual and gender identities, Modjaji Books, Athlone, Cape Town, pp. 61-66.
Nyong’o, T 2015, ‘Little monsters: Race, sovereignty, and queer inhumanism in beasts of the Southern Wild’, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, vol 21, no. 2-3, pp. 249-272.
Parker-Starbuck, J 2011, Cyborg Theatre: corporeal/technological intersections in Multimedia Performance, Palgrave Macmillan, United States, United Kingdom, Europe and other Countries.
Risam, R 2016, ‘Navigating the Global Digital Humanities: Insights from Black Feminism’, in MK Gold & LF Klein (eds.) Debates in the Digital Humanities, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London.
Tamale, S 2020, Decolonization and afro feminism, Daraja Press, Quebec, Canada. Wajcman, J 2004, Technofeminism, Polity Press, UK, USA.
Wolfe, C (ed.) 2009, What is Posthumanism? University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London.

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