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Humanism, Posthumanism, and New Humanism: How Robots Challenge the Anthropological Object

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This chapter takes up the relation between humanism and posthumanism, and the significance of these concepts for anthropologists working with technology. The author argues that posthumanism confronts a humanism in anthropology which privileges the perspective on humans (instead of, e.g., plants, rivers, and animals), and she then goes on to dissolve the notion of ‘the human’ by pointing to, for instance, multi-species ethnographies. The author argues that the technologies created by humans are often overlooked as the means and enabling apparatuses behind these perspectives on humans. Furthermore, the development of posthumanism can be seen as an intermediate station on the way to a new and more comprehensive concept of humanism in anthropology, one which concerns ontogenesis rather than ontology. The arguments are illustrated by a project exploring children’s conceptions of humanoid robots and what these studies can tell us about the new kind of humanism. The robotic technologies become an ‘inverted mirror’ that shows us the boundaries of what we accept as human-like. This indicates the importance of including processes in the posthumanist turn, as well as opening the way to a ‘new humanism’ which understands ‘human’ as a process and a verb.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of the Anthropology of Technology
Place of publicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication year2022
ISBN (print)978-981-16-7083-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-16-7084-8
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • Humanism, Posthumanism, New humanism, Humanoid robots, Anthropology, STS, Ingold, Cultural Theory, Pædagogisk antropologi, Human-Robot interaktion

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