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STIBET | Handling nonhuman with care: do we need a 'posthuman diplomacy'?


Dec 11, 2020 from 02:00 to 06:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)



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The starting assumption coming from posthumanist camp is that the nonhuman agency always-already affects our lives to a great extent and this WS attempts to contribute to а higher visibility of the very issue.

To begin with, a serious IT security breach in December 2019 (caused by trojan malware ''Emotet'' and ransomware ''Ryuk'') forced the JLU authorities to shut down the servers ''until further notice''. As a result, the complete digital infrastructure which comprises of web access, email services and internal networks architecture, including the entire academic management system, went offline, significantly disturbing the University’s operative dynamics. Instead of 'traditional' presumption of human-centered cyberattack (by insinuating the conventionally imagined static Subject as the 'original culprit') we shift focus to the set of questions on the ''agential turn'' within the posthumanist conceptual framework (Barad, 2007).

Moving on, the COVID-19 outbreak adds to the complexity of the problem, making life of the JLU (and academia in general) even trickier. It seems like global virus as a nonhuman ''actant'' (Latour, 2005) penetrates a multitude of layers, not only corrupting but also conceptually problematizing the 'human' organization of social reality, heavily challenging its western-centric core in particular. It literally wiped off the face of the Earth almost one entire generation in Lombardy, closed the world borders (re-parochializing Europe to the pre-Vienna-Congress state, to put it emphatically) and fundamentally accelerated kicking out of the office one of the most populist presidents in American history. Moreover, it appears as if it is radically re-designing the research anatomy of the glocal academia, turning (irreversibly?) humanities into the emerging realm of the so-called ''critical posthumanities'' (Braidotti, 2018).

In a form of theoretical amendment to the given case studies, this WS offers certain analytical tools for challenging the platforms that advertise human exclusivity on the matter, with a special emphasis on the malware and respiratory virus performativity and the plethora of relational and processual ontologies, sym- and trans-poietically shared among various actants (Bennett, 2010; Haraway, 2016). This frees up space for examining alternative forms of commonality and politicality, which will be discussed here as the key aspects of what I call for this purpose the 'posthuman diplomacy': a proposal throughout which the nonhuman tends to be recognized as a specific form of entities with 'subjectivity properties' or ''quasi-objects'' (Serres, 2007), whose agency operates as a constitutive element of a complex multiverse of becomings. In this perspective, they are here to stay, and even more – to negotiate with.


// Aleksandar Talovic (GCSC)