FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Abstract, dissertation, book

Pages:   || 2 | 3 |

«As a theoretician of history interested in Beyond the comparative theory of the human sciences, I am trying to reflect on certain Anthropocentrism in ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

As a theoretician of history interested in

Beyond the comparative theory of the human sciences, I am trying to reflect on certain

Anthropocentrism in changes, turns and approaches that are

observable in contemporary human and

Historical Studies social sciences. I see the growing interest in nonhuman beings (flourishing animal studies, plant studies and thing studies) within the context of an emerging paradigm of non-anthropocentric human sciences, and I would like to consider certain problems and questions that I see as fundamental for the kind of future-oriented knowledge about the past that these new tendencies portend.

What I mean by anthropocentrism here is the attitude that presents the human species as the centre of the world, enjoying hegemony over other beings and functioning as masters of a nature which exists to serve its needs. This attitude leads to speciesism (assigning different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species membership) and is related to the kind Ewa Domanska of discrimination that is practiced by man against other species. Optimally, a non-anAdam Mickiewicz University, thropocentric paradigm seeks to de-centre Poznan, Poland human beings and focus on nonhumans as Stanford University, USA subjects of research (often quite apart from their relationships with humans).

I would define “non-anthropocentric humanities”1 or posthumanities as an institutionalised set of research topics, techniques and interests that derives its ethos from the intellectual movement and ethical stance called posthumanism. This ethical stance may be understood as a variety of approaches that carry on the legacy of the hum

–  –  –

after humanism in pursuing non- or anti-anthropocentric lines of inquiry. The problem of posthumanism is very complex because there are no singular, homogenic trends, styles of thinking or philosophical directions that can be related to this term.2 The spectrum of this perspective goes from discussions of the ethical treatment of animals, through the boundaries of species identity, transgenics and cross-species hybrids to biometrics. There is no doubt, however, that a common basis of all these trends and tendencies is the problematisation, critique and/or rejection of anthropocentrism.3 Key research problems addressed by the posthumanities include the boundaries of species identity, the relations between the human and the nonhuman (human beings’ affiliations with technology, the environment, animals, things), and questions of biopower, biopolitics and biotechnology. As stressed by Cary Wolfe, the editor of a series of books entitled “Posthumanities”,4 there is no intention to somehow reject humanism as such and the values related to it. The intention is rather to consider how those values (justice, tolerance, equality, dignity, human rights, etc.) became a part of the definition of uniqueness and exceptionality of the human kind. The aim is to unbury the genealogy of what today is called posthumanities. These analyses are supposed to anticipate the shape of the “humanities” in the future, i.e. when the humanities become the posthumanities.5

The inadequacy of current theories for contemporary global problems

Knowledge is relative and every theory is created in a particular time and place as a result of particular needs, and thus should be constantly verified. In the context of the emerging posthumanities, it is crucial that we study approaches related to postmodernism from a historical perspective, treating their heroes (Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Geertz, Said and White in the theory of history) not as avant-garde authorities for future research but as classics of the genre.

Those thinkers and their methodologies must be historicised and contextualised.6 This is not to say that they are not important for today’s research; this is not to say that they are not relevant.

But I think that at present the theory of the human and social sciences is a step behind what is going on in the contemporary world in terms of environmental cataclysms, the crisis of climate change and, in terms of technology, genetic engineering and nanotechnology (plus the spread of global capitalism), and thus must bring under consideration the new situations and phenomena that technology has created. Theory has to “catch up” with the main problems addressed by current research since existing theories and interpretive tools are inadequate to account for the rapidly changing world.7 This inadequacy of current theories for problems that surround us has been observed in historical studies for several years now;8 however, recently it was highlighted by a well-known scholar in the field of postcolonial studies and a representative of the so-called Subaltern school of historiography – Dipesh Chakrabarty. His recent article “The Climate of History: Four Theses” (2009) marked also a spectacular and revealing shift of his scholarly interests. Chakrabarty deBeyond Anthropocentrism in Historical Studies fines himself as “a practicing historian with a strong interest in the nature of history as a form of knowledge”.9 In this article, he reflects on the collapse of the old humanist distinction between natural history and human history. Chakrabarty claims that we might trace its beginning to the Industrial Revolution, but only recently, in the second half of the twentieth century, did we become “geological agents”, meaning humans became a force of nature, having a tremendous impact on the planet on a geological scale. He proposes that historians should speak more about species (and their mass extinction), about the problem of our collective self-recognition and “should think of humans as a form of life and look on human history as part of the history of life... on this planet”.10 Certainly Chakrabarty is well aware of the dangers of the kinds of universals that postcolonial studies were fighting against, but nevertheless he is not afraid to call for a “negative universal history” that arises from a shared sense of a catastrophe (climate change).11 For my argument presented here, of special importance is the fact that he is explicit about the inadequacies of present approaches and theories in dealing with various ecological crises. Thus, Chakrabarty confesses: “As the crisis [the current planetary crisis of climate change – ED] gathered momentum in the last few years, I realised that all my readings in theories of globalisation, Marxist analysis of capital, subaltern studies, and postcolonial criticism over the last twenty-five years, while enormously useful in studying globalisation, had not really prepared me for making sense of this planetary conjuncture within which humanity finds itself today.”12 This honest statement is just a sign that theoretically oriented scholars are becoming more and more aware that, after the postmodernist turn to fragmented reality, micronarrative (microhistory) and local histories, there is a need to reconsider “big picture questions”.

A justification for a nonanthropocentric approach Where can we find a justification for a nonanthropocentric approach? What is the validity of such knowledge? In other words: what do we need for this nonanthropocentric paradigm?

Let me begin with a statement that I often heard from Hayden White while participating in his seminars and lectures: “To be a historian is not a choice of career. It is an existential choice.” Following this important remark, I would say that to speak about going beyond anthropocentrism or about posthumanism is not to pick up a fancy theme; it is not to consider an epistemological approach, but it is mainly a future-oriented ethical choice. Observing the results of ecological crisis and rapid technological progress and especially recent achievements in genetic engineering, biotechnology, neuropharmacology and nanotechnology, I am convinced that as historians and intellectuals we should again think about “big picture questions”, about global questions.

–  –  –

terest of preserving the human species, we do not need


knowledge but a knowledge that contributes to its survival.

Despite an Enlightened trust in knowledge as a “supreme instrument,” I find this argument quite convincing. Indeed, if we consider the host of publications on the Holocaust, we cannot avoid being struck by the way that the knowledge we have produced has failed to prevent the crimes against humanity during the war in former Yugoslavia or the genocide in Rwanda. So, if we ask the question: what kind of humanities do we need today? I might answer that we need the kind of knowledge, cognition and human science that have survival value and might help in the protection and continuation of the species.

It seems that in contemporary intellectual practice scholars are not connected by methods or theories but by the problems on which they focus their intellectual efforts, primarily because those problems are directly or indirectly related to controlling the life and death (biopolitics, necropolitics) of humans, on the one hand, and protecting “life” on earth, on the other. Protecting life is a “paternalistic” project and we have to be very aware of its results. Some scholars would call it “enlightened anthropocentrism” insomuch as it takes under consideration nature and nonhumans and presupposes that our ethical care for nature and nonhumans comes from our care of and responsibility to humans. This idea would be rejected by scholars working in the paradigm of “deep ecology” or the Gaia theory, who claim that nature or the earth will take care of itself.14 Also, we should not forget that life (and the survival of species) is not necessarily the highest value for everybody.15 Obviously, during the process of evolution, some specia become extinct and new ones appear and we should not desperately seek to preserve them. So, the survival paradigm is not by any means an unquestionable absolute.

Historians themselves also express their awareness of this problem while asking: “How often do we consider the unwelcome but ineluctable ecological fact that, while life on earth could survive just fine without humans (indeed it would no doubt flourish in our absence), without ants the entire foundation would crumble?”16

Keeping in mind the limitations of the survival paradigm, let us make the following assumption:

the challenge for today’s research is not so much in asking new questions and proposing new theories or methods of analysis, which would spring from current research trends in humanities, but to place the research itself in the context of the emerging paradigm of nonanthropocentric knowledge, or posthumanities. Andrew Pickering called this strategy a “posthumanist displacement of our interpretative frameworks”.17 Of course, the point is not to eliminate the human being from our studies (of the past) but – as I mentioned above – to displace the human subject from the centre of historical, archaeological and anthropological studies.

I would suggest that in the face of an ecological crisis and radical transformation of what it means to be human caused by genetic engineering and psychopharmacology, we need the kind of knowledge, cognition and human science that has survival value and will help in the protection and continuation of the species. Thus, a big question for “future friendly” historical studies would be: what kind of research questions, research materials, theories and approaches Beyond Anthropocentrism in Historical Studies should we – as historians and intellectuals – promote in order to strengthen the survival value of knowledge produced by reflection on the past? Are these questions about justice, ethics, democracy, freedom, human rights, dignity, God or the sacred? Which of the cognitive categories used by us should be turned into normative categories? What categories should be established as normative?

Towards collectives of humans and nonhumans

I attempt to move beyond debates about historical narration, historical representation, and, generally speaking, relations between text and past reality, debates which predominated in historical theory from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s. I propose that it is time to challenge and transcend the specific approach to the past called history understood as “the science of people in time” (Marc Bloch) and its not only eurocentric and phallocentric but, above all, anthropocentric character. Our reflection about the past should extend to those nonhuman beings that have recently been studied across various disciplines. Today, with the development of insurrectional and militant historiography, things, plants and nonhuman animals should also be incorporated into history as something other than passive recipients of human actions.

The future of thinking about the past will depend on whether and how scholars manage to modify their understanding of nonhuman agents: nonhuman animals, plants and things. Questions concerning the status of nonhuman agents in the past, relations between the human and the non-human, the organic and the inorganic, between people and things and between things themselves are of fundamental importance for reconceptualising the study of the past. Therefore, an important challenge is to rethink the nonhuman aspect of the past in a context other than semiotics, discourse theory or representation theory, with a special focus on the materiality, concreteness, relations and interactions and so-called presence of the past.18 What we need is to establish a human–nonhuman relationship based on a nonanthropocentric approach and on a relational epistemology. As anthropologist Nurit Bird-David has shown, thinking based on relational epistemology is marked by an absence of the ontological dualism of nature and culture, and body and mind, that are characteristic of western thought; self and personhood are relational to, and not separated from, the world. The world in this approach is a heterarchical one, rather than hierarchical. “I relate, therefore I am,” writes Bird-David, describing the intimate engagements of the natives with their environment. Moreover, she does not reify the notion of “relationship” into an entity but prefers to talk about “‘relatedness’ meaning two beings/things mutually responsive to one other”.19

–  –  –

ticipation in ecosocial and semiotic networks of interactions (including the interactions in which they are observed, named, etc.).

Pages:   || 2 | 3 |

Similar works:

«“Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies” (Rome, Sapienza Università di Roma, Dipartimento di Storia Culture Religioni Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, September 17th-22nd, 2012) Ethiopic Literary Production Related to the Christian Egyptian Culture (Version 2012.09.09) ALESSANDRO BAUSI Abstract The report on “Ethiopia and Coptic Studies” intends to review major points concerning the relationships between Ethiopia and Christian Egypt from the...»

«HISTORICAL OF THE JOURNAL THE -e•taesAh* ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA Editor, Charlton W. Tebeau NUMBER XVIII CONTENTS PAGE Wreck on the Reef By Joseph M. Cheetham Exploring the Ten Thousand Islands in 1838 Edited by James W. Covington Earliest Land Grants in the Miami Area By Henry S. Marks Key Vaca, Part II, Modern Phase By Florence S. Brigham The Association's Historical Marker Program Contributors Treasurer's Report 79 List of Members List of Officers COPYRIGHT 1958 BY THE HISTORICAL...»

«Breeding and Welfare in Companion Animals The Companion Animal Welfare Council’s Report on Welfare Aspects of Modifications, through Selective Breeding or Biotechnological Methods, to the Form, Function, or Behaviour of Companion Animals Syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel This cover illustration is a magnetic resonance image1 of the head and neck region of a 16month, female Cavalier King Charles spaniel (which had a 3 month history of yelping and tendency to scratch at the right...»

«Mitteilungen aus dem Siebenbürgen-Institut Herausgegeben vom Arbeitskreis für Siebenbürgische Landeskunde und vom Förderverein der Siebenbürgischen Bibliothek 15. Jahr, Folge 1-2 Juni 2008 ISSN 0945-702X Arbeitskreis für Siebenbürgische Landeskunde e.V. Heidelberg in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Historischen Institut der Universität Stuttgart und der Babeş-Bolyai-Universität Klausenburg/Cluj-Napoca Toleranz – Koexistenz – Antagonismus Wahrnehmungen religiöser Vielfalt in Siebenbürgen...»

«Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2006, 3, 292-303 © 2006 Human Kinetics, Inc. Muscle Strength and Postural Stability in Healthy, Older Women: Implications for Fall Prevention Elaine J. Trudelle-Jackson, Allen W. Jackson, and James R. Morrow, Jr. Background: Effect of muscle strength and balance on falls has not been well researched in healthy older women. The purpose of this study was to compare lower extremity strength and balance in older healthy women during each decade of life and...»

«In: Proceedings Coastal Sediments ’03. 2003. CD-ROM Published by World Scientific Publishing Corp. and East Meets West Productions, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA. ISBN 981-238-422-7.MORPHOLOGIC ANALYSIS OF SEBASTIAN INLET, FLORIDA: ENHANCEMENTS TO THE TIDAL INLET RESERVOIR MODEL Gary A. Zarillo1, Nicholas C. Kraus2, and Ronald K. Hoeke1 Abstract: Geomorphic analysis was conducted for Sebastian Inlet, FL to re-formulate an analytic model of shoal evolution and sediment bypassing. The Tidal Inlet...»

«A HISTORY OF KATARAGAMA AND THEIVANAIAMMAN THEVASTHANAM Selvam Kalyanasunderam, B.A. Diploma-in-Journalism (London) Barrister-at-Law Attorney-at-Law Published by Vishva Hindu Parishad Sri Lanka Colombo Branch 17, Nimal Road Colombo-4 Published October, 1980 Dedication Dedicated to Sri Swami Dattaramagiri for braving all situations to protect the Trust Printed at The Kumaran Press 201, Dam Street Colombo-12 PREFACE The author has only responded to a call to record certain facts which would...»

«Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 191-209 1996 Applied Geography, Copyright 0 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd Pergamon Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved 0143-6228/96 $15.00 + 0.00 SOl43-6228(96)00004-5 Historical channel-floodplain dynamics along the River Trent Implications for river rehabilitation Andrew R G Large Department of Geography, Daysh Building, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK Geoffrey E Petts School of Geography, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston,...»

«CV Rüdiger Campe July 2014 Academic Education 2000 Habilitation (second book) from the University of (Duisburg-)Essen, Germany 1987 Ph.D. from Freiburg University, Germany, with highest distinction (Summa cum Laude) Academic Positions 2007Professor at Yale, Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, Affiliate Professor of Comparative Literature, Film&Media Studies Program (Chair of German 2010 -) 2007 Visiting Professor at the University of Siegen, Germany, 'Media Studies' 2004 Fellow at...»

«History Elvis Presley: A Revolutionist Marcie Wallace Elvis Presley is the single most signi cant gure in rock and roll history. Elvis completely revolutionized music and his in uence changed the entertainment industry forever. In the 1950’s, the South was heavily racially segregated, but Presley’s music broke past these racial barriers. He allowed African American music to be accessible to white American youth who had never really been exposed to it. Elvis challenged the social and moral...»

«AUTO TOUR AAA Washington Travel Services Snohomish County Mountain Loop Our Mountain Loop Auto Tour traces a 112-mile itinerary from the Puget Sound Lowlands into the Cascade Range, all within the boundary of Snohomish County. The route includes 15 miles of gravel roadway (condition of unpaved section of roadway depends on how recently it has been graded and maintained). The upper portion of the Mountain Loop between Silverton and Darrington is closed in winter, usually from late November or...»

«File document Mushrooms at our online library. Also reading Mushrooms PDF file at any device MUSHROOMS PDF Read document mushrooms PDF update. So you are person who likes to download mushrooms Pdf to any kind of device,whether its your laptop, Kindle or iPhone, there are more options now than ever before. Perhaps because of the growing popularity of Zozobra Story Of Old Man Gloom, Developmental Counseling And Rapy Promoting Wellness Over Lifespan Nd Edition, Barns Of North Fork, Magnetic...»

<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2016 www.abstract.xlibx.info - Free e-library - Abstract, dissertation, book

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.