Thinking through the posthuman landscape

October 1, 2014
farstadrömmen sektion psdd
The understanding of what it means to be human has been subject to considerable change during our history. This has become clear in recent years in relation to the various critical theories that deconstructs history and hierarchies and exposes society’s discriminating mechanisms. Rosi Braidotti claims in her introduction to Posthuman (2013) that we, after this series of post-ideologies (postmodernism, post-colonial etc) are entering the posthuman age, which for her indicates a shift in the way we perceive what constitutes a human, foremost in ways that technology and theory continues to blur the nature-culture dichotomy, earlier considered fundamentally oppositional. Braidotti also suggests that the posthuman state is connected to a post-theory mood, following critical theory’s dependence on the humanist tradition, already to be seen in outbursts of theory-fatigue in today’s intellectual discourse.
In ‘A Feminist Project of Belonging for the Anthropocene’ in Gender, Place and Culture (2011) J.K. Gibson-Graham instead promotes the need for a theoretical evaluation of our society in order to find tools or strategies to break off from the devastating patterns of our current life style. The shift in the human state is hence projected into the future, described more as a form of neo-humanism, with emphasis on finding forms of coexisting with and creating a sense of belonging to the world.
If the human state is constantly evolving – so must the way we view the world change with it. This can be seen in how areas created within the hegemonic ideology is later reinterpreted as a failure or understood as misguided. J.K. Gibson-Graham uses the example of the suburban sprawl, originally shaped by a commercialist society, but proposed by Dolores Hayden to be reformulated in light of shared, collective values. This is interesting in relation to some modernistic suburbs of Stockholm exemplifying this change in ideology – at first thought to be a success, whereas they nowadays are subjects to reconfiguration and ‘rescue plans’, struggling to match today’s ideals and move away from stigmatization (seen in an extreme form in the Prewitt-Igoe project, for example). Could this be a strategy in reshaping the suburbs of Stockholm, built on the modernist ideals of the car dominated cityscape and the house wife ideal?
Donna Haraway (1988) speaks of the feminist subject as a pluralistic mind, ever changing and constantly reevaluating the predetermined and the insecure. It also becomes clear in Linda L. Laynes introduction to Feminist Technology (2010) that analysis, definition and categorization through feminist thought isn’t always clear, and there might never be an answer to which all can abide. Haraway also emphasizes the vital importance of situated and embodied knowledge, specifying the multiplicity of subjects.
Despite a wide range of guises for the posthuman condition, there seems to be some unifying features. In most cases the posthuman represents a moving away from subject/object dualism, grand narratives and universality and towards a critical specificity in theory and ideology. In either way the posthuman society represents an escape from present physical/psychological/social/theoretical/ideological/linguistic borders, which in my interpretation, basically makes it a figure of hope. The image of the shift in the human state can be a vehicle through we can both enable and envision change. 
/Molly Sjögren

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