What can go wrong when people become interested in the nonhuman?

Clark, Nigel Halcomb (2019) What can go wrong when people become interested in the nonhuman? In: The Routledge Companion to Actor-Network Theory. Routledge, London. ISBN 1138084727

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What if one of the definitive strengths of `classic’ ANT – the idea that humans and nonhumans are constitutively entangled – also serves a limitation? And what if there is more to `relating’ than networking, interconnectivity and co-enactive exchanges? Focusing on the work of Latour and setting out from the examples of microbial life and climate change, the chapter identifies some tensions between the depiction of worlds that are co-constructed by humans and other actors – and the idea that nonhumans are fully capable of composing worlds by and for themselves. These tensions, it is argued, have much to do with Latour’s aim to bring together questions of epistemology – how we know things, ontology – what we believe to exist, and politics – how we seek to compose common worlds. However, in his recent work on climate change, Gaia and the Earth system, Latour appears increasingly willing to view the `critical zones’ where humans can make a real difference as a subset of much broader and more fully inhuman domains. In this way, his concern with carving out regions of political `possibility’ can usefully converse with ideas of `extremity’ or `impossibility’ that philosophical `thinkers of the outside’ have long been exploring.

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15 Feb 2019 11:10
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12 Sep 2023 02:38