- Editor’s Note
“Posthumanism” signifies one of the most interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary areas of critical and cultural theory today. A broad area of inquiry, it ranges from trans-humanist works such as N. Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman (1999) to post-human initiatives like Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us (2007). Questions about exceeding and going beyond the human capture the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic spirit of our times. Moreover, inquiry in this area also examines the fate and alleged end of the “humanities” and “humanism”—a topic of central concern for all who affiliate with one or both of these terms.
Focus editors, Nathan Snaza and Mina Karavanta, have done a fine job bringing together a variety of essays that engage posthumanism in ways that avoid flattening “the human” into a monolithic or homogenous problematic. The work they have assembled in this issue under the capacious title Posthumanisms provides a sense of the variety and range of material affiliated with the term—work that spans areas of inquiry such as philosophy, political theory, literary studies, popular culture, the life sciences, cybernetics, systems theory, artificial intelligence, technoculture, and so on.
The essays in this issue examine posthumanism in relation to the crisis of the humanities and the ongoing crises faced by marginalized “humans” around the globe. They ask how might posthumanist thought be symptomatic of the crisis of the humanities and higher education more broadly? How has posthumanist inquiry ignored the lived heterogeneities of humanness distributed across raced, classed, gendered, and differently abled bodies? How can posthumanism’s critical political project benefit from being brought into intimate connection with critical race, queer, feminist, anti-colonial, and disability theories? In sum, they amplify and extend discussions about a future wherein the central role of humans and humanism is increasingly diminished, if not absent. [End Page 5]
Looking forward, we have two issues under preparation. The first is entitled Materialisms (Vol. 24, No. 1 ). Welcome are papers that engage diverse questions of materialism and materiality. We are especially interested in papers that are in dialogue with emergent accounts of materiality and materialism, from new materialist, feminist materialist, speculative realist, and object-oriented accounts of materiality to rethinking of concepts of materiality and materialism in Marxist theory, ecotheory, biopolitical theory, affect theory, and animal studies. Can “materialism” serve as a new organizing principle for the humanities (as “culture” and “language” did at an earlier moment)? What kinds of questions does a focus on materialisms and materiality open up? What kinds of questions does it close down? How can different forms of materialist speculation be brought into productive dialogue with each other? Should certain materialist approaches be privileged over others? Can we bring newer approaches to the topics of materiality and materialism into dialogue with older forms of materialism? Deadline: 31 December 2015.
The second issue in preparation is entitled Passports (Vol. 24, No. 2 ). Welcome are papers that explore the implications of the passport as a crucial, yet imperfect instrument of state power. How do passports restrict or enable mobility, and what social logics determine the distribution and granting of access in a globalised world? What dysfunctionalities arise from their implementation and their technologies of identification and authentification? What are the options for creative subversion? What is the relationship between the passport’s affiliation with the nation-state and emerging conceptions of transnationality and cosmopolitanism? In what ways do literature and the visual arts critically engage with the passport as an arbitrator of power, rights and identity? What are the social, political, economic, and intellectual dimensions of passports in the contemporary world? What are the philosophical and critical dimensions of the passport? Deadline: 31 December 2015.
I would like to thank the American Comparative Literature Association for their support of this journal. As part of our affiliation agreement with the ACLA, this issue features a cluster of articles entitled Interventions that were selected from a seminar on transparency sponsored by this journal at the annual meeting of the ACLA in Seattle in March of 2015. Special appreciation goes out to Zahi Zalloua, who co-chaired this seminar with me; and to Ali Behdad, Past...