Special Topics in Social/Cultural Anthropology

Course Number: 
Xin Liu

Terms such as posthumans or posthumanities have become familiar to our ears, but their meaning remains uncertain. In anthropology, for example, such sounds could easily createn confusion for those who continue to believe in their profession which is “the study of man,” whether the old Boasian tradition being invoked or not. This class tries to ask: what is “posthuman being”? Or what is the essential signification of such a term? Does it have anything to do with today’s technologies we have created and must now live with? Or is it a reaction to an older conception of man and his existence, known as Humanism?

In other words, we will focus on the emergence of a new mode of thinking that wishes to depart from the so-called “humanistic” tradition, which has paved ways for our on-going global-cultural struggles, i.e. in an age of new technic-technological predominance. In the European tradition, i.e. in the tradition of social theory, the term “antihumanism,” often with its peculiar Heideggerian tone, is not new. But how is our current feeling about posthumans or posthumanities related to the older European tradition of philosophy? The class aims to prepare grounds for students to think about posthuman condition under which anthropologists must be re-initiated.


Texts required (in the order of reading sequence)

Haraway, D. J. 2016. Manifestly Haraway (Posthumanities). Minnesota.

Lévi-Strauss C. 1970[1964]. The Raw and the Cooked. Harper&Row (Penguin 1986).

Heidegger, M. Letter on Humanism. Basic Writings (Harper 1977, Ch. V, pp.213-65).