'I care for you': Autonomy and Ethics of Care for Posthumans and Machines (Panel)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
The 53rd Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (March 10-13, Baltimore, MD).
contact email: 

The fantasy of sentient machines serving humans’ desires and needs connects world cultures and media as the film & TV industry is eager to produce eye-catching visual narratives of indestructible cyborgs like Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in the Terminator Series or selfless servants like Andrew Martin (Robert Williams) in Bicentennial Man. However spectacular these films are, they often leave us uncomfortable, wondering if bionic humans or AI-operated machines are here to destroy humanity. Could it be that humans deceive themselves into thinking that the creation of such posthuman beings will resolve the paradox of the ‘master and slave’ power dynamics? Could it be that our dreams of robots or technologically enhanced humans, giving us freedom from our daily tasks, protection from deadly threats, and sexual fulfillment on our terms, shatter against the principle of autonomy? Biological or technological, any subject exhibits free will when it governs itself. Can humans justify receiving such care without giving care in return? Whose rights need to be recognized for care and justice to coexist?

This panel seeks to examine how the interactions between free will, responsibilities, and the rights affect not only humans, but also our latest inventions, albeit fully implemented at the present moment on the screen in world cinema and TV: cyborgs, sentient machines, or service-oriented AI. We invite you to consider media representations of autonomous machines, cyborgs, and posthumans in light of the ethics of care.

Please upload your abstract to NeMLA portal