posthuman gender theory

Special Collection
„Posthuman Gender Theory“
in the peer-reviewed, open-access journal GENEALOGY+CRITIQUE

This collection, edited by Anna Babka, Hildegard Kernmayer, Julia Lingl, and Marietta Schmutz, deals with current positions and developments within the frame of what can be called Posthuman Gender Theory. Together with Gender Studies, Queer Studies, or Postcolonial Studies, Critical Posthumanism takes the various axes of identity and difference into account and states the entanglement and mutual influence of varied structures of difference and inequality or privilege with the aim of generating possible emancipatory strategies. Consequently, amongst a wide range of different approaches that counteract modern „humanist“ assumptions, the deconstruction of traditional oppositions like human/animal, organism/machine, nature/culture proves to be an important epistemic perspective of critiquing power for critical feminist scholarship. However, in Critical Posthumanism the active capacity for action of (human and non-human) matter is posited next to the power of discourse. Therefore, Critical Posthumanism not only puts into question „humanist“ models of knowledge and progress—like human enhancement, visions of artificial superintelligence, or patriarchal strategies of subjection within traditional-binary discourse—it rather breaks with the spatial, ontological, and epistemological distinction that sets humans apart. The contributions to this collection ask—often along theory-based readings of literary texts, comics or, other cultural phenomena—how the category of gender can be negotiated under these „posthumanist“ conditions.

Posthuman Gender Theory #1

Posthumane Selbstformungen in der Gegenwartsliteratur am Beispiel von Olga Flors Ich in Gelb

Lisa Keil

This article examines the intersections between technologies of the self, posthumanism, and gender by means of a literary analysis of Olga Flor’s 2015 novel Ich in Gelb. A reading of the novel shows how Flor discusses the immunotherapy practice of helminthic therapy in connection with different ‚monsters‘ like Medusa, bearded women, and mermaids, motifs that carry certain gender representations. However, the novel not only plays on old representations but also deconstructs traditional gender divisions and dissolves the illusion of a fixed self in employing posthumanist ideas. Applying Haraway’s concept of sympoiesis in the analysis of the relationship between human and worm as well as between text and worm, the examination of Flor’s novel shows that there is a correspondence between the ‚forming‘ of the self and the literary form of the novel. Therefore, literature has an epistemological function in understanding posthuman technologies of the self.


Posthuman Gender Theory #2

Emotional (Tech) Support: Sexualised Care Work and Robotic Sexualities

Constanze Erhard

AI-equipped sexbots are framed as ‚perfect companions‘. However, the question arises as to what kind of companionship the conception and consumption of these sexbots entails. This article explores the structural position of sexbots and the specific concepts of sexuality, intimacy and care connected to it. It argues that sexbots are providers of sexualised care work, a convergence that needs to be understood in the broader analysis of sexuality and care in post-industrial theories of sexuality. Through its promise of sexual fulfilment, emotional support and care, the sexbot enforces masculinities and does therefore not represent a posthumanist project (at the moment).


Posthuman Gender Theory #3

Comics – posthuman, queer-end, um_un-ordnend

Marina Rauchenbacher

Drawing on comic-theoretical discussions of the comics medium’s structural queerness—to be determined, above all, in its specific materiality, the media-constitutive figure of repetition, the interlinear reading and, thus, the particular possibilities of a re-reading of (human) bodies—this article demonstrates a posthuman-queer reading of comics. To this end, the comic-theoretical bases are given a new perspective through Karen Barad’s elaborations on Nature’s Queer Performativity. Subsequently, productively re_dis-arranging readings of bodies in comics are traced. As examples serve Ken Dahl’s Monsters, Martin tom Dieck and Jens Balzer’s Salut, Deleuze!, Regina Hofer’s Blad, and Anke Feuchtenberger’s Das Haus.


Posthuman Gender Theory #4


"Ethico-Onto-Epistemologie" und/als queer-posthumanistische Leseweise(n) von Barbara Frischmuths Roman Die Mystifikationen der Sophie Silber​

Anna Babka​

Based on a posthumanist theory framework and laid out as a queer-posthumanist reading this article explores Barbara Frischmuth’s novel Die Mystifikationen der Sophie Silber along various figures of thought and concepts by Karen Barad* and other posthumanist theoreticians whose decisive approaches lay in the questioning of anthropocentric humanist categories and dichotomous, hierarchically structured models of world order. Frischmuth’s novel provides multiple points of application for a posthumanist reading strategy since non-human beings, such as fairies and mythical creatures, occupy privileged positions, hierarchies and ontologies are flattened or turned upside down, anthropocentric orders of thought are overcome, and alternative world designs are tested, thus subverting the supposed superiority of human cognitive power and morality.


Posthuman Gender Theory #5

Back to Sex als "beyond binary". Kulturwissenschaftliche Überlegungen zur Relevanz des Biologischen​

Birgit Stammberger ​

Current biological research shows that sex is by no means as unambiguous and binary as previously assumed. Against the backdrop of contemporary debates in biological sciences about a gender difference „beyond binary“ and in light of deconstructivist and posthumanist materialist concepts, this article unfolds a renewed perspective on feminist epistemologies of gender, nature, and the body. The focus is on whether and how biology can be a site from which to think difference beyond binarity. The paper is intended as a plea for increased consideration of biological theories of bodily difference in cultural studies. Given existing attempts to cement the two-gender order in public discourse, it seems all even more urgent to make empirical-revised research in the biological sciences visible and to challenge binary thinking not against but with biology.


Posthuman Gender Theory #6

Introduction: Posthumanist Gender Theory—A Very Rough Account

Anna Babka, Hildegard Kernmayer, Julia Lingl, and Marietta Schmutz

This special collection cuts across current positions and developments within the frame of what can be called posthuman gender theory, thereby questioning humanist-epistemological categories that continue to shape Western societies and their systems of knowledge production. Posthuman gender theory inscribes itself into the discussion about a „conditio posthumana.“ Thereby, the traditional essentialism of a biologically based two-gender system is questioned anew. At the same time, the „humanistic“ idea of the superiority of man (as a male subject of domination) gives way to a post-anthropocentric conception of reality, according to which binary hierarchical oppositions such as man/animal or man/machine dissolve.
This collection among others comprises transdisciplinary examinations of novels, comics, and other cultural or social phenomena and aims to participate in the ongoing development of posthumanist thinking in relation to gender and queer theory formation.


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