By Australasian Posthumanities
S2E9: Vivian Blaxell: Nuclear Cats
Vivian Blaxell’s brilliant essay, 'Nuclear Cats', was shortlisted for the Melbourne Prize for Literature in 2021. In this Q&A, we get deeper into the thought behind her writing, covering themes like beauty, gender, the animal / human divide, history and Australian culture. Vivian Blaxell is a trans pioneer, former teenage sex worker, mental health nurse and professor of history and politics specialising in Japan and East Asia, and the co-founder of Tiresias House (now the Gender Centre in Sydney). She now lives in Naarm/Melbourne and is working on a set of linked autobiographical essays (The Long After) of which ‘Nuclear Cats’ is one. You can read Vivian’s shortlisted essay online at Meanjin: https://meanjin.com.au/%E2%80%A2-essay/nuclear-cats/.
January 03, 2022
S2E8: Hannah McCann and Shirley Xue Chen: Gender & the Pursuit of Beauty
What are feminine masculinity and masculine femininity, and how do popular digital representations shape our notions of beauty, self-care, and work? In this episode, we speak to Dr Hannah McCann and Shirley Xue Chen about digital representations of gender and beauty in RuPaul's Drag Race and Queer Eye, as well as romance and gender in Australia's new season of The (Bisexual) Bachelorette. We also discuss their research on Beyond Skin Deep, (https://www.beautysalonproject.com/) an ARC-funded project considering the role of salon workers in the emotional lives of their clients. It also looks at how salon workers are in a unique position to help address important social issues such as family violence, mental health, and social isolation.
October 28, 2021
S2E7: Louise Richardson-Self: Hate speech against women online
Why are women so frequently targeted with hate speech online and what can we do about it? In this talk, we chat with Dr Louise Richardson-Self about her new book, Hate Speech against Women Online, published in 2021 with Rowman and Littlefield International. Dr Louise Richardson-Self is Lecturer in Philosophy & Gender Studies in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania, and her new book investigates the woman-hostile norms of the English-speaking internet, the ‘rules’ of engagement in these social spaces, and the narratives we tell ourselves about who gets to inhabit such spaces. You can pick up a copy of Louise's book at https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538147795/Hate-Speech-Against-Women-Online-Concepts-and-Countermeasures.
October 28, 2021
S2E6: Gary Hall: Writing against elitism with 'A Stubborn Fury'
In this Q&A we chat with Gary Hall about his book, A Stubborn Fury. This book offers a powerful and provocative look at the consequences of this inequality for English culture in particular. Focusing on the literary novel and the memoir, he investigates, in terms that are as insightful as they are irreverent, why so much writing in England is uncritically realist, humanist and anti-intellectual. Experimentally pirating McCarthy, Eribon and Louis, A Stubborn Fury addresses that most urgent of questions: what can be done about English literary culture’s addiction to the worldview of privileged, middle-class white men, very much to the exclusion of more radically inventive writing, including that of working-class, BAME and LGBTQIAP+ authors?
August 20, 2021
S2E5: Joanna Zylinska: 'AI Art: Machine Visions and Warped Dreams'
Can computers be creative? Is algorithmic art just a form of Candy Crush? Cutting through the smoke and mirrors surrounding computation, robotics and artificial intelligence, in this Q&A Joanna Zylinska argues that, to understand the promise of AI for the creative fields, we must not confine ourselves solely to the realm of aesthetics. Instead, we need to address the role and position of the human in the current technical setup – including the associated issues of labour, robotisation and, last but not least, extinction. Offering a critique of the socio-political underpinnings of AI, AI Art: Machine Visions and Warped Dreams raises poignant questions about the conditions of art making and creativity today.
August 20, 2021
S2E3: Francesca Ferrando: Posthumanism and the Everyday
How can we implement posthuman ways of existing in everyday life? And what does it mean to be 'posthuman' in Australasia? Dr Elese Dowden discussed these questions with leading Posthuman scholar Dr Francesca Ferrando, Founder of the Global Posthuman Network and Adjunct Assistant Professor in Philosophy at New York University. Our conversations revolve around her recent book, Philosophical Posthumanism, and we consider how we might apply ideas in posthumanism to our everyday lives in Australasia.
May 05, 2021
S2E2: Christine Daigle: Can Beauvoir's Existentialism Be a Posthumanism?
In this Q&A with feminist philosopher Christine Daigle, we discuss how Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophy represents a first major step towards a rejection of the humanist subject. Christine argues that Beauvoir's work is influential for the development of contemporary posthumanist material feminism. Specifically, she argues, Beauvoir's unprecedented attention to embodiment and biology, in The Second Sex and other works, as well as her notion of ambiguity, serve to challenge the humanist subject. While Christine is not claiming that Beauvoir was a posthumanist or material feminist thinker avant la lettre, she shows that Beauvoir is an important precursor to some of their key ideas. Indeed, her thinking about the body, sex, gender, and the importance of embodiment and situation constitutes a challenge to the subject of humanism, thereby opening up a path for thinkers that follow to push Beauvoir’s critique and articulate a posthumanism that does away with the subject of humanism.
April 22, 2021
S1E8: Rose Trappes and Ali Teymoori: Explaining Honour Killing with Sexism and Marginalisation
In this talk, we'll hear from Rose Trappes and Ali Teymoori. Honour killing is the murder of women and sometimes men who have been perceived to have broken codes of sexual conduct in a local community. The crimes are typically justified as part of the process of restoring honour to a family or community. Rose and Ali use philosophical, feminist, and social theories to develop an interpretation and explanation of honour killing as a “dark side of modernity”. Specifically, they discuss how sexism and systematic marginalization combine to reinforce the reliance of minorities and tribal groups on honour codes and their accompanying practices of honour killing. Effective approaches to combat honour killing require not only addressing the issues of sexism and fundamentalism, but also the systematic exclusion and stigmatization of local groups and minorities. Their talk is based on work with Arash Heydari (University of Science and Culture, Tehran, Iran).
February 15, 2021
S2E1: Matthew Sharpe: The Marketization of Higher Education and Crisis Tendencies: Australia & Germany Compared
In this Q&A, Matt Sharpe gives us insights from his recent public policy research into the impacts of marketization and casualization on Australian and German universities. The marketization of higher education, although presented as a neutral means to achieve 'efficiencies', inescapably produces “problem tendencies” (cf. Habermas, 1992; Crioni et al, 2015) within teaching, between casualization and reduction of teaching staff and quality of instruction; within research, between free inquiry and applied, quantifiable research; and within institutional culture, between the uncommodifiable, collegial dimensions of academic work and the culture of auditing and compliance promoted by neoliberalism, as well as its attendant costs (Power, 1997; Craig et al, 2014). Matt contextualizes and examine figures from Germany and Australia, explaining why the Australian experience has been so much worse, as the responses to COVID-19 since March 2020 have highlighted.
February 11, 2021
S1E7: Erin McFadyen: Translating The Animal: Anthropocentrism and Enchantment in Contemporary Australian Poetics
In this podcast, Erin McFadyen thinks about the human desire to voice animal subjectivity, and the limitations of our power to do so. In works such as Les Murray’s Translations from the Natural World and John Kinsella’s The Jaguar’s Dream, a lyric impulse to speak from the subject position of the animal taps into a long Anglophone poetic tradition of ‘translating’ or ‘voicing’ our more-than-human companions. With recourse to Latour’s actor-network theory and the object-oriented ontology of Jane Bennet, Erin argues that contemporary Australian attempts to translate nature into lyric poetry leave a gap — that is, they always contain a little failure — which signals not human power over the non-human world, but rather our embeddedness within an ecology which eludes our understanding and control. This is a poetics that calls for an ontological humility, for a relinquishing and redistribution of power, and for an enchanted environmentalism.
February 11, 2021
S1E6: Magdalena Zolkos: Inanimate Witnessing: Trees, Skulls and Fossils in Didi-Huberman's Philosophy of Memory
In this podcast, Magdalena talks about how material objects in cultural memory studies question the philosophic assumptions about inanimate things and ‘lower level’ organic objects in the Aristotelian hierarchy of beings. She analyzes the nexus of materiality, plasticity and memory in the work of French philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman, with the aim of, first, contributing to explorations of the mnemonic effects and affordances of material things, and, also, of approaching collective memory from the perspective of a deconstructive engagement with some of the foundational binaries of Western philosophy: surface/depth, exterior/interior, visible/invisible and malleable/rigid. More information about the Australasian Post-Humanities at aposthumanities.org.
October 24, 2020
S1E5: Stephen Muecke: 7 Posthumanities Methodological Principles
What is the "posthumanities?" Taking a pragmatic approach to the posthumanities, Stephen's seminar engages with the work of Rosi Braidotti, Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour and Lesley Green in order to glean some methodological principles in this wide-ranging field. Stephen asks what the posthumanities makes it possible to do that we couldn’t do so well before, and what kinds of practical problems the field can address. More information about the Australasian Post-Humanities at aposthumanities.org.
October 19, 2020
S1E4: Andrew Goodman: The Secret Life of Algorithms: speculation on queered futures of neurodiverse analgorithms
Andrew shows that algorithmic modes of thought have long and problematic histories of collusion in processes of governmentality, dating at least back to the Atlantic slave trade and including the othering of neurodiverse, black and indigenous, and queer cultures. Beyond their instrumentation within systems of power, he proposes that at the foundation level of algorithmic design there are a series of assumptions about what constitutes legitimate thought processes. These assumptions are based on neurotypical modes of thought and often ignore the possibilities of more neurodiverse thinking, which is regularly devalued in our society. This naturalised “whiteness” that lies at the centre of and colonises algorithmic programming needs to be interrogated and rethought, he argues, in order to break the relationships between algorithms and oppressive power systems. The talk also includes brief discussion of the artwork Collective Fabulations: Propositions for Social Dreaming, the author’s collaborative project with Canadian artist-philosopher Erin Manning, exploring the concept of an analgorithmic mode of thought proposed in the paper. More information about the Australasian Post-Humanities at aposthumanities.org.
October 19, 2020
S1E3: Tracy Sorensen: Personification, the Posthuman and the Poseidon Adventure
Tracy asks, 'Do one's abdominal organs "belong" to oneself?' In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari refer to the Body Without Organs - a mysterious and confounding concept. Interestingly, they're careful to explain they have nothing against organs; it's the assemblage that is the problem, because assemblages tend to concentrate or enact power. In my novel, working title The Pouch of Douglas*, the affected organs in a cancerous human body tell us about their own lives and trials. It is a cancer memoir with a difference: the "romantically suffering" human subject is radically decentered; she is glimpsed only indirectly, as a character offstage in this drama, or perhaps as venue for the drama. More information about the Australasian Post-Humanities at aposthumanities.org.
October 17, 2020
S1E2: Dinesh Devaraj: Existentialism is No Humanism (Animals: Free Will to Rights, to Justice)
As Dinesh argues, existentialism is no Humanism; that is, no forms of Humanism can be properly existentialist. Sartre’s idea of free will cannot be denied to non-human animals (henceforth simply labelled animals), because like humans, animals undertake projects and make choices throughout their lives. And it cannot be logically or empirically argued, without uncertainty, that animals are only mechanical automata; if humans can be argued, with certainty, to be free via the experienced structures of our consciousness. Consciousness is common to all living beings that undertake projects throughout their lives. Therefore, the freedom of consciousness must also be common to all living beings: not just humans, but all animals including insects. More information about the Australasian Post-Humanities at aposthumanities.org.
October 17, 2020
S1E1: Madeleine Shield: How Should we Respond to Shame?
As Maddy explores, shame is the psychological desire to be socially connected and understood, and its fulfillment is essential to our wellbeing and flourishing, while its neglect leads to psychological and moral damage. Invoking the eudaemonistic framework of (neo-Aristotelian) virtue ethics, she argues that the practice of shaming cannot therefore ever be ethically justified. From this it follows that the most ethically desirable reaction one can have to shame is one which best allows them to resist or overcome the emotion. To this end, Maddy analyses two common responses to shame, compliance and anger, proposing an alternative: the practice of emotional vulnerability. More information about the Australasian Post-Humanities at aposthumanities.org.
October 17, 2020