Long after the poststructuralist critique of a humanist subject as well as the inherent dichotomies, just when the very notion (subject) was questioned and declared dead – the concept of subjectivity has returned prominently, especially in the context of posthumanism. The aim of this paper is to provide an in-depth analysis of a contemporary take on subjectivity, as well as to critically engage in the debate around this matter, arguing that the very concept (subject) entails certain principles and conditions that inevitably presupposes subject/object dichotomy. Taking Nomadic Feminist Subjects (Rosi Braidotti) as a case study, we will outline and determine both ways in which this concept distances itself and reformulates the (humanistic) Cartesian subject, as well as the ways in which it remains within the traditional framework. Also, we will chart some more general tendencies under the umbrella term of posthumanism, arguing for a deconstructive, as opposed to a reconstructive approach to it.
In Letters from Norway, one of Isidora Sekulić’s greatest works, the author deliberates on the topic of old age in women. In Serbian literary criticism, only Bojana Stojanović Pantović and Kristina Stevanović perceived the gender aspect of the old age topic in Sekulić’s work. In this paper, the issue of old age of predominantly unmarried women is interpreted, by reading the second edition of Letters (published in 1951, whilst the first one was published in 1914). As a theoretical background I used Simone de Beauvoir’s The Coming of Age, I &II (published in 1970 and translated in 1986 into Serbo-Croatian). I also relied on gender-aware historians in reference to the position of women in the early twentieth century. Isidora Sekulić’s particular approach to the old age of women is deliberated: she focused on elderly unmarried women in Norway, pointing it out as a role-model, at the same time criticizing gender roles in Norwegian society and implicitly the status of the old unmarried woman within Serbian society. Sekulić introduced the term “third sex” in order to indicate the number and power of elderly unmarried women. The author also wrote about the old age of a dog, thus approaching the topic of ageing in a non-anthropocentric manner. Isidora Sekulić appealed for a more compassionate approach towards elderly women.
The paper makes use of Judith Butler’s poststructuralist approach to gender and Donna Haraway’s theorization of the posthuman figure of cyborg to explore the subversion of the heteronormative apparatus in Larissa Lai’s novel Salt Fish Girl. This work of the early 21st century Canadian speculative fiction weaves a narrative continuity between a mythical serpent goddess, her reincarnation as a natural woman and her final embodiment as a cyborg in a late-capitalist technocracy. The queer poetics of the novel intersects with the exploration of the boundaries between the human, animal and the machine in a multilayered narrative that imagines a technologically-mediated reproduction of the two lesbian protagonists, thus transcending the heteronormative institution by means of a posthuman subjectivity. Ultimately, Salt Fish Girl may be said to take issue with coextensive ideologies of sexism, racism, scientism and speciesism by imagining a radical agency of a self-reproducing female subject that combines different natural species and a machine, challenging the humanist assumptions about the privileged position of man (or, the male, to be more precise) in a chain of beings in which the exploitation of women, nature and animals has been rooted.
In this paper, the issues of transgression and subversion of human body in the situation of technologically generated performance are analyzed. Firstly, a theoretical-historical contextualization of the digital environment is made and then examples are analyzed of cyber performance, digital and techno-performance that problematize the relation between the digital system and the body of the performer. This relation has become very important for the understanding of the discontinuity problems between the human and the machine. Therefore I have considered the changing position and the function of a live performer as a performing subject and a performing object in the context of digital performance and performance in cyberspace, from the following aspects: the relation between live body and avatar performer; cyborg performance; independent performance of computers. The central argument focuses on the problem of the post- or non-human performer through the concept I have named “digital anthropomorphism”. According to Bruno Latour, anthropomorphism can mean ‘either that which has human shape or that which gives shape to humans’. Argument is made that a digital environment responds to both parts of this definition. It is both created by humans and at the same time it is shaping the humanity. The invention of cyberspace has redefined our ontology and has become a continuation, extension and even a new dimension of the time-space that we inhabit.
Film art anticipated many humanistic ideas which have only recently become the actual subject of consideration. The seventh art has pointed to many ethical dilemmas and controversies that the humanity encounters when facing different challenges of transhumanism. The Hollywood films exemplify this issue most adequately in the example of the cyborg. By creating dystopian works related to cyborgs (films, TV series, graphic novels) and profiting from them, the media industry uses a mixture of curiosity and fear evident in modern people faced with an increasing development of technologies, which alters their social surroundings. Within the social reality, due to the development of technologies, the cyborg has, as a media phenomenon, over a period of time, become a part of the present and of the immediate future. We live in the times in which we question and examine the former definitions and identity of humans in the light of a new hybrid identity of the cyborg as a direct mixture of man and machine.
Writing about the archeology of human sciences, Foucault has shown that the modern concept of the human is a discursive effect, and that it can easily disappear once the configuration of power/knowledge has changed. Contemporary age is also called the Anthropocene – the age in which the Earth is irrevocably marked by human activities, and for exactly that reason it is necessary to theoretically and critically re-think the discursive effect called “the human“. In this paper, I will show that it is necessary to theorize that which is “after the human“ – the ahuman – in order to develop an image of the world without the human, which can serve as an ontological and political framework for thinking and doing in the age of contemporaneity. The theory of the ahuman would serve in that regard as a corrective to the multiplicity of conceptions which developed as critiques of the subject – antihumanism, posthumanism, transhumanism and other – which were still based on a certain, although expanded image, of the human.