News and events

  • Rescheduled round-table: “More Than Human. Posthumanism, Human-Technological Relations, and Bioethics

    This round-table will now take place on May 4th, 2022, 16:00 (EST). Please see the poster for how to join the meeting.

     

  • Posthumanism in Practice: A Talk by Dr Matthew Hayler

    Please join the Posthumanism Research Institute for our upcoming event:

    Posthumanism in Practice: A talk by Dr. Matthew Hayler,

    University of Birmingham and Series Editor for Posthumanism in Practice (Bloomsbury)

    April 21, 2022 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm (ET)

    LifeSize event link: https://stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/12627650/edf0a4e1-a920-44e8-8744-5dacc2c88b7c

    What might we mean by posthumanism? What kinds of practice are available? What does it mean to do posthumanism?

    In this session, Dr. Hayler asks what it might mean to put posthumanist ideas into practice. Working with Professor Christine Daigle and Dr. Danielle Sands, Dr. Hayler has launched a new book series, Posthumanism in Practice, with Bloomsbury Academic and is excited to see how researchers interpret this idea. But there’s still a lot up for grabs – what might we mean by posthumanism? What kinds of practice are available? What does it mean to do posthumanism? In outlining his own approach, Dr. Hayler argues that posthumanism might not be a coherent philosophical stance, anymore than poststructuralism or postmodernism. Instead, like these broad moves in thought, the benefits and possibilities of posthumanism might be found in combinations of: i) outlining more nuanced thinking, ii) the defamiliarization of common sense, iii) identifying new ways of doing things, iv) bringing together insights from across disciplines that are doing related work, but not always with the same languages or frameworks. He will draw examples from a couple of recent publications on bioethics and the digital humanities in order to think about questions that might be raised for practical application, and also how some parallel discourses and disciplines might usefully be brought under a posthumanist umbrella.

    Categories: event, news

  • Performing Resilience / Experiences of Inequity

    Please join the PRI as we welcome artists Tarndeep Pannu and Meghan Moe Beitkis for a live stream talked entitled Performing Resilience/ Experiences of Inequity. In the talk, Pannu and Moe Beitiks will use the recently published book Performing Resilience for Systemic Pain as a jumping-off point for discussing experiences of inequality in arts and performance, and their relationship to ecologies.

    This live stream event will be held on April 5, 2022, at 1 pm (EST).

    Please click on the link here to join: https://stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/12627650/edf0a4e1-a920-44e8-8744-5dacc2c88b7c 

    Meghan Moe Beitiks is an artist working with associations and disassociations of culture/nature/structure.  She analyzes perceptions of ecology through the lenses of site, history, emotions, and her own body in order to produce work that analyzes relationships with the non-human.  She was a Fulbright Student Fellow, a recipient of the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists, a MacDowell Colony fellow, and an Artist-in-Residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. She exhibited her work at the I-Park Environmental Art Biennale, Grace Exhibition Space in Brooklyn, Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery in Chicago, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the House of Artists in Moscow, and other locations in California, Chicago, Australia and the UK. She received her BA in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her MFA in Performance Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. See her website here: www.meghanmoebeitiks.com

    Tarndeep Pannu is a graduate of Brock University’s Dramatic Arts program and has a minor in Political Science. She was heavily involved in her program through her roles as Student Representative for the Dramatic Arts Department, collaborator and performer in We Who Know Nothing About Hiawatha Are Proud to Present H…, and Assistant Director for 5 Women Wearing the Same Dress. After graduating from university, she was looking to combine her love for theatre into a career with a big social impact, creativity, and leadership. This pursuit led to Humber College, Canada’s leading training program for public relations and marketing professionals. She has interned at NKPR, leading to secured coverage in Seventeen Magazine, The Zoe Report, Dwell, and Holr Magazine, an internship with NATIONAL Public Relations where she was a part of the team spearheading the Pfizer vaccine campaign, Marketing Assistant and Project Manager at the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, and Programs Coordinator at the Canadian Film Centre. Most recently she has joined the marketing team at Factory Theatre and will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Critical Theory with a specialization in Race and Diaspora this coming fall.

    Categories: event

  • Round-table: More than Human: Posthumanism, Human-Technological Relations, Bioethics

    The ‘Posthumanism: Cinema Philosophy Media’ Roundtable Series presents:

    MORE THAN HUMAN: Posthumanism, Human-Technological Relations, and Bioethics

    March 29, 2022 @ 7:00 P.M.

    Zoom Meeting: https://wilfrid-laurier.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEsduqtpzsoGdBH4VOdDieN4ykgVKgw4GKK

    Biohacking, biomedical advancements, bioengineering, and transhumanist hopes, aspirations and fixations – How do technological advancements extend what it means to be human?

    This roundtable discussion seeks to break down the barriers between different perspectives upon and methods of analysis of transhumanism, biohacking, and bioethics. From film studies, to a cultural studies lens on biohacking as a subculture, to the latest mind-body interface technologies, how we take up our relationships to and with technological advancements is central to how we understand what it means to be (or not to be) human.

    Join an engaging roundtable with:

    • Jeremy Hunsinger, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
    • Andrea Austin, Associate Professor, Department of English and Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
    • William Brown, Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre and Film, University of British Columbia
    • Alex Pearlman, Communications Director, Science and Technology Reporter, Research Affiliate at MIT Media LabConcentric by Ginkgo

    For more information contact: Russell Kilbourn rkilbourn@wlu.ca or Julia Empey empe3530@mylaurier.ca

    Categories: event, news

  • Talk by Dr. Myra Hird on Waste

    Dr. Myra Hird (Queen’s University) will be giving a talk on “Waste: a Tale of Two Problems” on March 21st, 2022, 11:00-12:00 ET. This talk is jointly hosted by the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, the Sustainability, Science and Society program (SSAS) and the Posthumanism Research Institute (PRI) and will be live-streamed here.

    Categories: event, news

  • Decentering the Nature-Culture Divide in Diplomacy

    The North American Cultural Diplomacy Initiative (NACDI) invites you to attend our virtual panel, Decentering the Nature-Culture Divide in Diplomacy, which carries forward the issues and debates that foregrounded our 2021 summit, Players: We Are All Practitioners. Hosted by NACDI in partnership with the Posthumanism Research Institute, our virtual event will be held on 16 February 2022 at 2:00 – 3:30 pm (ET), 1:00-2:30 pm (CT), and 11 am-12:30 am (PT).

    **Click here to register to attend this free event!*

    Building on the North American Cultural Diplomacy Initiative’s work to address the question of culture’s role in diplomacy, this event focuses on statist diplomacy as a Eurocentric practice to advance a discussion of diplomacy that is refracted by applying posthumanist and post-anthropocentrist lenses. Taking as a starting point forms of diplomacy on the North American continent that were, and continue to be practiced by Indigenous Peoples, the panel also brings into play Islamic perspectives and posthumanist discourses.

    This panel suggests that to properly examine “cultural diplomacy,” the centrality of a nation-state-based understanding of “culture” that excludes other ways of knowing and stands in opposition to “nature” must be problematized. Viewing diplomatic practice and orientation through the lens of what Glen Coulthard (2014) terms “grounded normativity”, this session challenges the ways in which Cartesian dualism of nature and culture provide a limited understanding of being in and relating to the world. Re-orientating our relationship to time and place, grounded normativity centers histories, practices, and ways of relating to one another which contest the state-centric and settler-colonial orders and broadens the scope of diplomacy to include non-human players.

    Categories: event, news

  • Roundtable on Posthumanism, Cinema, Memory

    We are happy to co-host this round-table event with a special guest presentation by Dr. Anna Amza Reading. The event takes place on Monday February 28, 2022, 11:00-14:00 EDT.

    What does it mean to approach memory from a critical posthumanist perspective?

    Please join us for a roundtable discussion on the intersection of cinema, posthumanism, and memory studies. The topic of memory affords unique opportunities for posthumanist inquiry, including (but not limited to): object-oriented memory; environmental memory; animal memory; Indigenous memory; feminist memory; radical alterity and memory; post-anthropomorphic memory; post-apocalyptic memory; multidirectional memory. Rosi Braidotti revalues memory as one of the “main criteria for posthuman theory,” a positive life-affirming force of imagination. Cary Wolfe maintains that, in a certain sense, memory has always been posthuman: in its cultural and institutional forms it has historically relied on prosthetic supports, technologies like writing, for the recording and storage of information or knowledge. Of these technical supports, writing is the “fundamental historically identifiable form” of the “exteriorization of memory.” This is the de-ontologization characteristic of modern memory whose roots, of course, are considerably older than modernity—a modern memory now supported by digital audiovisual media. In thinking about memory and its relation to cinema, posthumanist theory tends to privilege science fiction film, whether dystopian or otherwise. Yet, close attention to audiovisual style also allows for a critical interrogation of such questions as whether or not a given film text actually represents a given posthumanist concept, properly speaking, or whether the film ultimately perpetuates some form of anthropocentric or neo-humanist understanding of the relations between the human as currently understood and what comes after or falls outside or beyond. It remains to be seen to what degree posthuman memory names a modality of human experience that is as much about the present or future, marshalling these temporalities in the service of a memory that transcends a mere relation to the past—a ‘making present of the past’ (Richard Terdiman)—with the potential to operate at a global scale far beyond discrete social groupings. The ultimate question, perhaps, is whether such a posthuman memory will still wear a human face.

    Our four panelists will share their varied approaches to memory studies, posthumanism, and cinema in a discussion that hopes to further illuminate how audiovisual media as “prosthetic support” expresses and engages with memory in a posthumanist context. This will be an online event supported by Zoom to be held Monday February 28, 11:00am-2:00pm ET..

    Please see the poster for Zoom webinar registration information. Also available here.

  • Explorations in Empirical Posthumanisms (New Date!)

    This diverse group of speakers apply a posthumanist lens to pressing social and environmental issues. The presentations include discussions of the entanglement of racialization, affect, and the body, and multispeciesrelationships in both Toronto and internationally.

    When: Thursday, December 9, Ontario Time: 3-4:30 PM 

    Where: LifeSize interactive video conferencing: https://stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/12627650/edf0a4e1-a920-44e8-8744-5dacc2c88b7c 

    Chaired by: Mickey Vallee (Canada Research Chair in Community, Identity and Digital Media, Athabasca University) 

    Speakers

    Sarah Elton is a critical food systems researcher, investigating the food-biosphere-health nexus. She is a collaborator with Feeding the City,, external link, opens in new window a multidisciplinary study involving several universities and investigating the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian food systems. She is the primary investigator of the research that tracks the impact of the pandemic on the Ontario Food Terminal, Canada’s largest wholesale market of fresh produce that sources food for Toronto, Ontario, and the Maritimes. This study is funded by a Faculty of Arts research award. Her recent doctoral work examined the relationship between humans and nonhuman nature in a study of urban gardens in Toronto and won the 2019-2020 Joan Eakin Award for Methodological Excellence in a Qualitative Doctoral Dissertation. She also is the author of two best-selling books: Locavore (2010, Harper Collins Canada) and Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet (2013, University of Chicago Press). 
     
    Andrew Brooks is Lecturer in Media Cultures in the School of Arts and Media, UNSW. His research proposes strategies for reading and listening to contemporary media events, systems, and infrastructures. His current research is organised around three main projects: the politics of noise and listening; infrastructural inequalities; and the politics of race and embodiment in media culture. 
     
    Nick Fox is one of the UK’s leading proponents of new materialist and posthuman social theory as applied to sociology, with books including ‘The Body’ (Polity, 2012) and the ground-breaking ‘Sociology and the New Materialism’ (Sage, 2017; with Pam Alldred, Brunel University London).  He has written widely on new materialist theory and sexualities, health, environment and research methods, having published over 70 peer-reviewed papers.  Nick has also been the invited speaker at major conferences including the Hellenic Sociological Association, BSA Medical Sociology conference, University of Melbourne Gender and Research conference and the Korean Society for Social Theory. 

    Abstracts

    Murmur: noise beyond representation 
    Andrew Brooks (University of New South Wales) 
    This talk develops a conceptual and philosophical reading of the sonic figure of the murmur. A murmur draws disparate voices together in a continuous and processual unfolding. Thinking with its multiplicity, the murmur might be better understood as an  expression of foundational noise that precedes and exceeds representation. Here the murmur is developed as a figure of incommensurable difference that is both a precondition for the emergence of the subject and other individuations and mediations of the object, as well as a force of interruption and potentiality. Taken as an expression of a foundational noise, the murmur is theorised as an expression of Blackness itself, which, drawing on the work of Hortense Spillers, Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, and Denise Ferreira da Silva can be understood as an irreducible excess that is both anti- and ante- a regulative order that calls it into being. Such incommensurable difference is unable to be captured and contained either by the figure of the sovereign subject constructed in post-Enlightenment European thought or by the processes of racialisation that produce and uphold supremacy of this figure. Here I argue that noise, in its figuration as a murmur, interrupts the univocity of being that is so central to Western knowledge and suggests a relation of affectability that moves beyond the given grounds of representation. Considering listening as a modality of attuning to noise, we might restage Delueze’s famous statement – we do not yet know what a body can do – via Hortense Spillers’s conception of the Black maternal flesh as that which comes before the body and ask, as Moten and Harney (2021, 82) implore us to: ‘Can we imagine we don’t know what flesh can do?’ This paper suggests that attunement to the sonicity of the murmur allows us to attune to the possibilities of the flesh as a site that both moves us outside the grammar of ‘Man’ and toward new conceptions of solidarity. 
     
    Relational health: Theorizing plants as health-supporting actors 
    Sarah Elton (Ryerson University) 
    The social sciences are beginning to explore how plants are imbricated in sociopolitical processes, including ones that produce health. I theorize people-plant relations and the agency of plants in the production of health, drawing on data from a multispecies ethnography conducted in Toronto’s largest social housing community during the 2018 growing season. In the presentation, I draw on posthumanist theory to explore how food-producing plants can be sociopolitical actors too. 
     
    Climate change, environmental justice and the unusual capacities of posthumans 
    Nick Fox (University of Huddersfield) 
    This paper explores a posthumanist and new materialist approach to sustainable development policy.  I trace a humanist and anthropocentric emphasis in policy discussions of ‘sustainable development’ that reaches back almost 50 years, and still underpins recent United Nations (UN) statements and policies on sustainable development.  This has tied policies to counter environmental challenges such as anthropogenic climate change firmly to sustaining and extending future human prosperity.  The paper will then chart a path beyond humanism and anthropocentrism, to establish a posthuman environmentalism.  This acknowledges human matter as an integral (rather than opposed) element within an all-encompassing ‘environment’.  Posthumanism simultaneously rejects the homogeneity implied by terms such as ‘humanity’ or ‘human species’, as based on a stereotypical ‘human’ that turns out to be white, male and from the global North.  Instead, ‘posthumans’ are heterogeneous, gaining a diverse range of context-specific capacities as they interact with other matter.  Some of these capacities (such as empathy, altruism, conceptual thinking and modelling futures) are highly unusual, and – paradoxically – may be key to addressing the current crises of environmental degradation and anthropogenic climate change. 

     

    Categories: event

  • New play i/O by partner theatre company Post Humains on stage Nov 16 – Dec 4

    Thanks to a SSHRC Partnership Engage grant, the PRI has collaborated with the Montreal theatre company Post Humains for the research-creation that led to the elaboration of their play i/O. The play is presented at the Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, salle Michelle-Rossignol, from November 16 to December 4, 2021, in Montreal. For an interview with the playwright and director of the company, Dominique Leclerc, see here.

    Categories: news

  • Save the date: Upcoming talk with Dr Emily Jones on November 17, 2021

    Please join the Posthumanism Research Insititute for a talk by Dr Emily Jones entitled Posthuman International Law and the Rights of Nature which will be held on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, from 10:00-11:30 am EST (via video conferencing).

    Abstract: The rights of nature are beginning to be recognised globally. Seeking to challenge and re-think the anthropocentrism which permeates International Environmental Law, in this lecture, I will discuss the synergies between posthuman theory and the legal recognition of the rights of nature. The lecture will draw on multiple examples of contexts where nature’s rights have been recognised, including in New Zealand, India, Ecuador, the US, and beyond to think through the similarities and differences between these contexts and the lessons to be learned. Calling for the recognition of the rights of nature in international law i.e. globally, I will conclude by reflecting on the ways in which posthuman theory can be applied to help inform this project, seeking to ensure that the rights of nature movement can live up to its transformative posthuman potential.

    Speaker biography: Dr Emily Jones is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, UK. Emily is a generalist public international lawyer whose interdisciplinary work combines theory and practice. Her work cuts across: posthuman legal theory; gender and international law; international environmental law; the law of the sea; science, technology and international law; gender and conflict; and political economy, imperialism and international law.

    Pre-registration required. To register, email Mitch Goldsmith at mg12vh@brocku.ca

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