P12
Being, being human, and becoming beyond human

Convenors:
Aaron Parkhurst (University College London)
Timothy Carroll (UCL)
Location:
Quincentenary Building, Wolfson Hall B
Start time:
21 June, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel explores quests for redefinition and enlightenment through a diverse look at techniques and technologies that people incorporate to reconstruct identity, the body and the self, questioning and challenging normative notions of human-ness through engagements with the more than human world.

Long abstract:

Contemporary discourses concerning cyborgian and post-human enhancement presuppose an aspect of novelty in emergent relationships to the human and the humanoid other. This panel draws on a breadth of ethnographic case studies which each, in their own way, question the relationship between the body and the material, medical or ecological extension of the self. Through case studies which explore novel and historic intimacies that humans create as they partner themselves with technologies of past and present, this panel approaches new ways to think through the more-than-human-world. It questions dominant public discourse, which creates artificial boundaries between normative body practices, healing, performance and enhancement. The panel asks for alternative approaches to engage with streams of agency that weave through new urbanized landscapes and systems of social relations. Human beings are constantly exploring new ways to be 'beyond' what they perceive themselves to be, and human creativity often searches to incorporate 'things' and 'techniques' outside themselves to reconstruct identity, the body and the self: the destruction of physicality in pursuit of possibility. This panel explores these quests for redefinition and enlightenment through a diverse look at techniques and technologies. Religious materials, cyborg engagements, alternative theatres, and invasive medical procedures all beg thought on reshaping common notions of what it means to be human and to be limited by the human body.