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The Limits of the Human in Latin American Culture

Research output: Book/ReportEdited book

Original languageEnglish
Publisher or commissioning bodyUniversity Press of Florida
DateSubmitted - 12 Apr 2018
DateAccepted/In press (current) - 19 Feb 2019

Abstract

The Limits of the Human in Latin American Culture aims to bring into focus the multivalent ways in which the modern category of the human has been delimited, contested and placed in crisis across Latin American cultural history, with an emphasis on the representational economies embedded in the region’s diverse literary and visual cultures.
Moving thematically rather than chronologically, our collection considers how dominant representations of the human emerge with nation-building and modernising discourses in Latin America before invoking some of the innovative ways in which such constructions have been challenged on the basis of race and gender. The volume then turns to examine two primary modes of crisis that are related as much to the limits of cultural representation as they are to the limits of political representation. The first form of crisis we consider pertains to the ways in which historical and contemporary forms of violence and conflict have restricted the possibilities for human life and produced sites of dehumanisation and exclusion. The second relates to influential cultural turns towards nonhuman figures, landscapes and objects, and our volume examines the ways in which these turns away from the human are frequently accompanied both by political critique and by novel aesthetic and ethical constructions. Rather than providing an exhaustive account of any particular national context, our book curates and places in dialogue a selection of significant examples of cultural portrayals, contestations and displacements of the limits of the human from across Latin America.
Our aim is to contribute to both scholarship on violence and scholarship on posthumanism, by demonstrating some of the ways in which these heterogeneous fields can be thought together from the point of view of a crisis or a limit point. Our collection engages with, evaluates and revises major global theories of the posthuman turn, including works by Jane Bennett, Rosi Braidotti, Eduardo Kohn, Cary Wolfe and Bernard Stiegler. At the same time, we engage with Latin Americanist scholarship in areas ranging from materiality, to the opposing approaches of decolonialism and infrapolitics, to animal studies and environmentalism. While scholars have addressed specific aspects of the posthuman previously in relation to Latin American culture (for example, Gabriel Giorgi’s study of animals in Latin American literature, Formas comunes [see below]), there has been no holistic interrogation of the potential applications of posthumanist thought as a critical framework, and not enough work has been done on the simultaneously difficult and generative ways that posthumanism intersects with ongoing concerns regarding spaces of violence.
Our edited collection therefore seeks to discern how Latin American perspectives might alter critical attitudes towards ideas of humanism and posthumanism, for instance by emphasising the continued role of capital in shaping human and nonhuman life, and assessing a broader historical range of examples than is typically the case in posthumanist scholarship.

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