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Professor Joanna Latimer (Cardiff), "Unsettling Conditions? Motility, human division and posthuman imperatives"

SPA Research Seminar

SPA Research Seminar: Abstract:Contrasting two trajectories of the posthuman debate, I explore how their different imperatives challenge humanisms binding binaries through the creation of new libratory imaginaries of hybridity and connection. The first longstanding trajectory of the posthuman debate arises out of concerns overtechnology. Utopian visions of human-technology hybrids that extend peoples powers to carve out their own futures run up against a lineage going back to Heidegger and Foucault - one that unpicks notions of the discrete, self-contained and autonomous individual, but nonetheless views the fall or disappearance of the human as dangerous and even dystopian. Drawing on ideas of relational extension that de-centre the subject, my own field studies show how the proliferation of technologies inside contemporary health care are not so much medical as they create materials for managing how care is conducted. Supporting Stratherns critique of the culture of enhancement - and her observation that technology works us as much as we work it - my findings suggest many technologies diminish peoples power; many are turned on practitioners and patients alike in ways that exaggerate the individuation of responsibility and intensify the precarity of identity and belonging. Contrastingly, the second trajectory derives from the DNA revolution in biology and the mapping of the genome. Debates here stress substance in common, affording possibilities for connection and new biosocialities that undo division in humanisms dualisms. Specifically, postgenomic imaginaries are seen to have the potential to change the conditions of possibility for the production and reproduction of humanisms central figure: the autonomous individual capable of living the ethical life. In my recent field studies of genetic medicine and ageing biology Ihighlight how humanist and posthumanist imperatives actually work together in ways that reject any totalising narrative. Instead of a new start that abandons the dividing practices that hold human exceptionalism in place, we see cultural performances within the clinic and the laboratory that are adept at shifting people and their grounds, back and forth, across both human and posthuman imaginaries. What comes into view in my work across both of these trajectories of the posthuman debate is elicitation for humans to be motile as much as mobile, moved by human and posthuman imperatives alike. The over-riding imperative though is to be on call, continuously switching extensions and shifting the world to hand; an endless condition of never being allowed to settle.

A Department of Sociology & Philosophy seminar
Date3 February 2014
Time15:00 to 17:00
PlaceAmory B219


Amory B219