A One-Day International Seminar & Panel-Discussion in Blended Mode

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Centre for Research in Posthumanities, Bankura University


Fluid Identities: Counter-heteronormative Performance and the Posthuman Ethos

(Date of the Event: 31.07.2024; 11AM-5PM IST, Wednesday)

Convener: Dr. Subhadeep Paul, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Bankura University and Joint Coordinator, CRP, BKRU.


Posthumanist identities are deconstructionist in ways more than one, and challenges the preponderant insularity of the ‘human’ as subject, entity, and agency, within the matrix of the High Anthropocene. If the human is an “assemblage, co-evolving with other forms of life, enmeshed with the environment and technology” (Nayar 2013), it is also, simultaneously, post dualist and post-Cartesian; "mutable, nomadic, ephemeral," and in that connection, "pluralistic, multilayered and as comprehensive as possible" (Ferrando, Francesca. Philosophical Posthumanism, 2019. 56-7), and quintessentially fluid,perpetually self-reflexive and assiduously interrogative. Reason and morality – the twin pillars or founts of humanist identity have proved counter-active and counter-agentic in the Anthropocene, which is why the posthuman turn is not to be perceived in trajectorial crossovers of crossroads and landmarks of science, politics and the humanities, but instead, in terms of what Paul Taylor called “posterizing impulse” (Taylor, ‘Taking Postracialism Seriously’, Du Bois Review, 11:1 (2014), 9–25, 16) or what Kwame Anthony Appiah calls “a space-clearing gesture” (Ibid). This inexorable impact of time and change influencing and counter-influencing one another, is a supercilious intrusion of (sub)-textual marginalities into and inside the grand narratives of humanist material history and the preponderant hegemony of Western metaphysics. What was once the paradigmatic epitome of ‘subject’-ive importance, is deflated and fissured by the plurality and plurisignification of hubristic others (where the ‘otherhood(s)’ in question are neither fatalistic in their ontological positioning, nor flawed in terms of their epistemic understanding.

In terms of post-millennial understanding of mind and matter, the ‘Capitalocene’ (Jason Moore (ed.), Anthropocene or Capitalocene (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016) has promoted human exceptionalism, not in terms of a belief but in terms of a mindless, compulsive, manipulative, hyper covetous, and suicidal/ecocidal bid for extractivism. It has also pulversied a hi-tech transhumanist imperative that, suitably speaking, is reminiscent of Cary Wolfe’s idea of “an intensification of humanism” (Wolfe, ‘What Is Posthumanism?,’ p. xv). Such a milieu is anti-kinship-making in nature. This does not apply to multispecies coexistence only but is also injurious and inimical to the dynamics and ‘sympoiesis’ of intra-species practices of kinship-making. It is not that posthumanism can completely disregard “hierarchizing dichotomies” engendered by humanism (Jansen, Leeuwenkamp and Urricelqui’s “Posthumanism and the ‘posterizing impulse” in Contemporary post-constructions 2000s-present. – 9781526148179. Downloaded from manchesterhive.com at 05/02/2024 06:27:58PM via Open Access. CC BY-NC-ND. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/). But simultaneously, it can counter the escalation of the humanist trump card. If not anti-humanism, posthumanism need not be a re-humanist overdrive, especially at a point of time when the basics of co-existence, co-evolution and co-dependency are put to the litmus test of subsistence itself. Despite reason and consciousness, the category of the ‘human’ needs something more to create not a ‘post’ but a ‘com-post’ (C. Taylor, Paul. ‘Taking Postracialism Seriously,’ Du Bois Review, 11:1 (2014), 11., 32) manifesto of inclusivity, diversity, and a non-essentialist ethos of non-exclusionary existence. The tilt towards ‘humusities’ instead of the traditional humanities is a vital realisation of the hour, where humans, more than ever, are allied as subjects with the various others, both within and outside their species. Literally and metaphorically therefore, posthumanism does not mean ‘the literal end of man but the end of a particular image of us’. […] (Robert Ranish and Stefan Lorenz Sorgner citing Mitchel Foucault’s The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, 1966) and Ihab Hassan’s Prometheus as Performer, 1977), ‘Introducing Post- and Transhumanism’, in Ranish and Sorgner (eds), Post- and Transhumanism, pp. 7–27, p. 15). Posthuman imaginaries does not necessarily promote a universal teleology towards an abstract genderless, colourless and bodiless human, creating a blind spot for present forms of racial profiling of bodies, sexist notions of the body, the influence of colonial legacies on the body, et al, but also examining how onto-epistemic edifices of body politics are scrutinised, revised and reordered in counter-heteronormative considerations.

In terms of gender positionalities, this is to break the mould of heteronormativity that sustains a hegemonic edifice of heterosexual, patriarchal and capitalist imperatives of material, socio-cultural and political living, in sync with what the book Beyond the Heteronorm: Interrogating Critical Alterities in Global Art and Literature (Lexington Books | Rowman & Littlefield, 2024), Eds. Subhadeep Paul & Goutam Majhi, aims to do. The seminar will be inaugurated with the launch of this book, where the focus will be on highlighting the humanist and heteronormative standardizations of exclusionary practices inspired by the construct of gender and how these conventions often misconstrue and convolute sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Correspondingly, it will also focus on how the posthumanist credo interrogates post-heteronormative critiques of gender, enabling the deconstruction of gender essentialism and the embracement of gender inclusivity in both theory and practice.

Keeping this in mind, the seminar welcomes innovative presentation proposals (around 10 minutes per presentation) on global art, literature and culture that showcase critiques of heteronormative spaces, situations, and subjectivities in the posthumanist mould, to highlight empathic and inclusive analyses of experiences shared between diverse subordinated and minoritized socio-cultural entities and collectives. Paper proposals (single/joint/panels) may address the following ideas and tropes, but are not limited to them alone: -

  1. Counter treatises of gender essentialism
  2. Gender inclusivity: texts and contexts
  3. Radical ‘pretexts’, ‘texts’, ‘mythotexts’, ‘metatexts’, ‘postexts’ addressing the interface between counter-heteronormativity and posthumanism
  4. Gender diverse representations of agencies and non-agencies in posthumanist works
  5. Non-heteronormative personhood/performativity and the post-binary in film and pop media
  6.  Posthumanist texts that have addressed diverse minoritized socio-cultural entities and collectives.
  7. Contemporary debates surrounding sexual orientation/ gender (mis)recognition/gender identity that exemplify a posthumanist connect
  8. Issues in contemporary Masculinity Studies, Women’s Studies, Queer Studies, and debates directly or discursively related to both heteronormative and non-heteronormative identities
  9. 9.     LGBTQIA+ agendas & concerns that pertain to Counter-heteronormative performance and the posthuman ethos
  10. Counter-heteronormative policy framing and execution of the same in the Indian context, linked with posthumanist emancipation


► Potential abstracts (within 500 words), alongside a brief bio-note (within 200 words) should reach the organising committee within 15.07.2024 (IST Midnight), mailed to the following address: paul.academia.bkru@gmail.com or subhadeeppaul@bankurauniv.ac.in

►Date of the event: 31.07.2024; 11AM-5PM IST, (Wednesday).

►Date of confirmation of abstracts: 17.07.2024 (IST Midnight).

►Registration & Participation: 1. Faculty: 2000 INR. 2. Researcher (registered & independent): 1500 INR. 3. UG & PG Students: 1000 INR.  4. International Speaker: 50 USD.

The registration dues (for presenters with selected abstracts) may be forwarded to the following:

Bank Transfer: Subhadeep Paul. SB A/C No. 20793675528 , Indian Bank. M.B. Road Branch. Kolkata, India. IFSC Code: IDIB000K764. MICR: 700019099. Swift Code (for International Registrations): IDIBINBBSTR. 

Online Transfer:        

GPay forward to Subhadeep Paul (Recipient Soumyashree Sarkar) @ 8902039664.