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Posthumanism in Literature and Ecocriticism

Serenella Iovino

Abstract


“Where does the posthuman dwell? At what address? And in what type of house?”

These questions, borrowed from the opening of Deborah Amberson and Elena Past’s essay on “Gadda’s Pasticciaccio and the Knotted Posthuman Household,” tickle our eco-accustomed ears – ears that more often than not like to take ideas back to their earthly dwelling, something that the Greek all-too famously called oikos. In our case, however, to provide the right answer to these questions is definitely challenging and might require a little “veering.” The reason is simple: situated by definition in a mobile space of matter and meanings, the posthuman does not seem so prone to dwell. In fact, it moves, relentlessly shifting the boundaries of being and things, of ontology, epistemology, and even politics. And these boundaries, especially those between human and nonhuman, are not only shifting but also porous: based on the – biological, cultural, structural – combination of agencies flowing from, through, and alongside the human, the posthuman discloses a dimension in which “we” and “they” are caught together in an ontological dance whose choreography follows patterns of irredeemable hybridization and stubborn entanglement. In this mobile and uncertain dwelling, furthermore, the posthuman might not have a stable “address,” but it does address important issues: it addresses, for example, the alleged self-sufficiency of the human, the purported subsidiarity of the nonhuman, and the consistency of categorical essences and forms that hover over our visions and practices as if they had been demarcated ab aeterno by the hand of an inflexible taxonomist. Taking a closer look, finally, we can see that the posthuman’s house is not only mobile and a bit shambolic, but also operationally open: open to transformations and revolutions, ready to welcome the natures, matters, and cultural agents that determine the existence of the human and accompany it in its biological and historical adventures. It is a collectivehouse for “nomadic” comings and goings, and most of all for belonging-together and multiple becomings: its inhabitant and “name-bearer,” the posthuman subject is, in fact, “a relational subject constituted in and by multiplicity” – a subject “based on a strong sense of collectivity, relationality and hence community building,” as Rosi Braidotti says in her beautiful interview with Cosetta Veronese. In other words, as its house is itinerant and accessible to numerous guests, including the elements, the posthuman subject is a restless and sociable agent, allergic to limitations and boundaries, and ontologically full of stories. A biocultural Picaro, one might say.


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References


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Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196


Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo