[UPDATE: Proposals due November 1st, 2015] Intense Humanity: Politicizing Technicity, or Re-Feeling the Post-Human
Politicizing Technicity, or Re-Feeling the Post-Human
Technicity is theorized as a medium of labor, a process, a substance, and a combination of the three as an open set in a dynamic, interdependent, and interactive relationship with categories of the human. Yet, the human, the intensive ethical category of value-making and vitality, is often left behind even as, and especially because, theories of technicity imagine a futurity out of multiplicities of rupture. The increased acceleration, integration, internalization and miniaturization of technology has spurred theories of technicity that continually attempt to theorize it as overtaking, changing, or destroying categories of the human through technologization and catastrophe. Hence, contemporary theories of the posthuman (Ihab Hassan, Katherine Hayles, Carey Wolfe, etc.), of the inhuman (Francois Lyotard, Manuel de Landa, Quentin Meillasoux, Graham Harman, Ian Bogost), and of catastrophe (Maurice Blanchot, Paul Virilio), have attempted to critique and theorize human from the outside. Put differently, these various traditions posit technicity as outside of the human and belonging to a different spacetime than the human even as they argue that humans are always already technical. Yet, as Arthur Bradley argues in his Originary Technicity from Marx to Derrida, each of these schools that attempt to theorize technicity as technical all the way down, contribute to what Agamben calls the "anthropological machine," turned towards technicity, which continuously reimagines the human as a category both distinct and primary to technology even as technology overwhelms the human. They end up with theorizations that are not "technical all the way down." Meaning, humans remain a primary category defined through the "other" of technicity. While Bradley's argument is contestable, he comes to an interesting conclusion: perhaps instead of theorizing the end of the human, we might otherwise theorize the end of technology as a category distinct and separate from the human. The stake of such an argument is that while we may have never been modern, we have always been human.
Technology is seemingly playing an ever-expanding role in the world: smartphones guide refugees and keep communities together, social media has become a political platform for ISIS, apps are being created to fight against police brutality, ideas of techno-libertarian utopias surge in silicon valley, computer models are more adept at simulating and predicting environmental catastrophes, cyber-security is a nationalist concern, even as jingoistic politics of the right rise to continue defining superior humanity through a particular type of technical extension and stability. In short, technicity moves through political discourses as individuals feel technology has left them behind, is taking them forward, or continues to make them into technical implements systematically and structurally. Yet, technicity is undertheorized as immediately mediated, urgent, and intense. In this collection, we are interested in these aspects of technicity and the human both now and in the past. How can we think of technology as part of rather than different from human and what might this achieve?
What are the political stakes of theorizing technicity?
How is technicity theorized with and through the human?
How do discourses of technicity substantiate concepts of 'otherness' (as opposed to difference), and how can they resist them?
How can chaos and catastrophe be thought of otherwise or even affirmatively?
What opportunities and spacetimes are created when humans intensely engage with technology? How?
What are the stakes of theorizing technicity in conjunction with spirituality, religion, ecology, and environment?
How are these various discourses related, and what can theorizing within and through them do?
We are interested in these questions across history and disciplines: from virtuoso musicians and their instruments and the early modern theater as a technology, to refugees and their use of smartphones and black, white, conservative, and progressive populist movements in the United States. More importantly, we are interested in the intensity of technicity rather than its extension—its urgency, its potential, and its political playfulness for an intense humanity.
Please send proposals of 500-750 words to the editors, UC Irvine Chancellor's Professor Bryan Reynolds (firstname.lastname@example.org) and UC Irvine doctoral student in theater and performance studies Sam Kolodezh (email@example.com). Proposals are due November 1st, 2015 and completed drafts are due February 1st, 2016.
Thanks, Bryan & Sam