PRINT December 2014


Susanne Pfeffer

After reading a brilliant two-part inquiry into the “labor of the inhuman” by the philosopher Reza Negarestani this past year—and on the heels of Jean-François Lyotard’s landmark L’inhumain: Causeries sur le temps (The Inhuman: Reflections on Time) from 1988—I became deeply intrigued by thinking that looks beyond the human. Contrary to what its name might imply, posthumanism does not in fact dispense with the body. Instead, as Rosi Braidotti shows us in her book The Posthuman (Polity Press, 2013; the German edition was published this year), the body is reimagined as a fraught arena, a stage on which to mediate the inhuman technologies of advanced capitalism in radical new ways. Addressing phenomena ranging from new communication devices to industrial farming, from the Human Genome Project to drones, the author draws on her own, previously articulated theories of nomadism to explore contemporary technology’s political potential. To this end, Braidotti’s book strikes me as almost a humanist call to arms—and an important antidote to morose resignation in the face of a depressingly still-dominant notion of“mankind” as white, male, and European. Technological change, ecological crisis, and the rise of the neurosciences are the defining characteristics of our era. In such a moment, having second thoughts about man might just pave the way for a more humane future.

Susanne Pfeffer is Director and Chief Curator at the Fridericianum, Kassel.