Monday, December 01, 2014

PHILOS-L Follies: "Femininities, Masculinities, and the Posthuman"

   PHILOS-L is a listserv that sends out conference alerts of interest to philosophers. I suppose it shouldn't be too surprising that there's some pretty silly stuff mixed in there. E.g. the below, from this morning:
Femininities, Masculinities and the Posthuman
The Femininities and Masculinities Project
Saturday 2nd May - Monday 4th May 2015
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Call for Presentations:
We live in times in which what it means to be human is in a flux. Our identities, including our gender identities, are in the state of becoming and performing themselves. As illustrated in Spike Jonze's film Her (2013), technology has created a situation in which our lived, offline realities and increasingly mediated, shaped and in some cases supplanted by relationships and identities fashioned online. Body enhancements and medical innovations enable us to shape our bodies to the extent unknown before, which is exemplified, for insance, by Nicki Minaj's alleged buttocks augmentation for enhanced femininity. Yet, there is also a trend to look for our inherent nature - our human essence - in the growingly posthuman world. Consequently, the concept of the posthuman is inextricably tied to conceptions of femininity, masculinity and gendered subjects as a whole. At the same time, because this interplay between technologies and bodies takes place against a backdrop of commercial and biotechnological innovation that constantly changes the playing field, fundamental questions about what it means to be posthuman remain open to ongoing debate.
This conference seeks to generate dialogues that explore the posthuman by framing it as an opportunity for self-fashioning, performing and communicating gendered identities. We therefore invite proposals for presentations on topics such as:
Posthuman (gendered) identities:
-human, posthuman, animal
-animal/human interactions
-automata, cyborgs, monsters, aliens
-non-human non-heteronormativity
-fetishisation of the posthuman
Science, gender and the posthuman:
-the medicalization and creation of gender/sex
-guidebooks for 'real' men and women
-'the homosexual' medical and 'manageable'
-neuroscience and the gender of cells and the brain
-fashoning identities via medical discourse
The bios and posthuman:
-bio-politics and its intersection with post-humanism
-reinventing bio-politics and the bios
-objects and the re-evaluation of the human
-the decline of the anthropocentrism
Posthuman bodies:
-body enhancement
-(medical) metamorphoses
-transgression of body boundaries
-reproducing the posthuman body
-embodiment and (gender) identity
Posthuman communication and gender:
-cyberspace and changing means of communicating
-media addiction
-digitalisation of social relationships
-gendered subjects and virtual reality
-digital technologies, cyberspace, and fashioning of gender identities
   So...Niki Minaj's butt job means that "the concept of the posthuman is inextricably tied to conceptions of femininity, masculinity and gendered subjects as a whole"...  Get it?
   There are some interesting questions about "gender"...just not nearly enough of them to sustain the academic gender industry, which attempts to make bloviating about the topic into some kind of foundational enterprise, jamming it into every discussion, regardless of the topic. Though gender bears thinking about, and "posthumanity" bears thinking about, it just isn't true that "the concept of the posthuman is inextricably tied to conceptions of femininity, masculinity, and gendered subjects as a whole." That isn't true at all. It isn't close to being true. It isn't even vaguely plausible. And the claim certainly isn't supported by anything that precedes 'consequently' in that paragraph. Questions about the "posthuman" simply are not "inextricably tied to" questions about gender. Hell, they don't even seem to be tangentially related. And they will only seem to be if you're already obsessed with gender and insist on inserting discussions of it everywhere. These people remind me of the hard-core Christians of my youth. You can't say "please pass the pie" without getting a lecture on their pet obsession. Jesus in the one case, gender in the other...  
   So far as I can tell, some people just like talking about sex and similar issues...and some like talking about their personal lives...and, of course, many are committed to pushing political points about things like "non-heteronormativity"...and so they look around for topical hooks they can hang such discussions on.
   To make matters worse, in my experience anyway, people interested in these issues are not typically committed to methods of inquiry that value clarity, precision and truth. Rather, they are generally, as Peirce would say, "studying in a literary spirit". And much of this stuff is little more than quasi-poetic free-association. And quasi-poetic free-association in the service of pre-determined left-wing conclusions, to boot.
   Listen, I am probably crankier about this stuff than is warranted, so don't take my word for it. Not that you would. Again, I'm not asserting that all such things are bullshit from stem to stern. But then few things are... That's a damned low bar to clear. But this sort of thing usually--again, in my experience--has a significant tendency to be of little value...or worse...


Blogger The Mystic said...

I, for one, am surprised you're so easy on "posthuman," especially in this context.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I'm just basically ignoring that so that I can complain about the other stuff without seeming too much like a cranky old man.

3:13 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Psh, give your audience what it wants.

3:59 PM  

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