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Gender Revisited. Negotiating Gender in the Age of Posthumanism

Local cooperation partner: Assoz. Prof. Dr. Hildegard Kernmayer, Institute for German Studies
Junior Fellow: Marietta Schmutz, MA

Incoming Senior Fellow: Assoz. Prof. Dr. Anna Babka, Institute for German Studies, University of Vienna
Incoming Junior Fellows: Mag. Jasmin Doubek (University of Vienna), Julia Lingl, MA (University of Vienna)

Period: October 2019 to December 2020
Symposium: 10-12 December 2020, for details see www.posthuman-genderstudies.at/conference


The feminist theoretical tradition of the second women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s with its tendency towards a binary-hierarchical conception of gender problematized on the one hand the concrete exclusion of women from the sphere of the public sphere, and on the other hand the symbolic exclusion of a 'female alterity' in the patriarchal social order. This conception is sometimes reflected in the political endeavour to find female agents in art and society as representatives of (action) power or to equip them with (action) power. At the turn of the 20th to 21st centuries, the binary conception of gender was adopted by several cultural and gender theoretical positions: Feminist deconstructivism and the postcolonial studies resulting from it, which seek to dissolve all subject positions, understand even biological gender as a language-generated construction that is constantly produced anew in performative acts (Butler). For neo-materialism, on the other hand, such discourse theories now prove insufficient to explain the interplay of meaningful symbolic processes and material orders. In view of global economic processes, technological innovation and digital networking in the information and communication age, the concept of a posthuman subject (Braidotti) is proposed that intraacts with other subjects (human and non-human actors) - humans, animals, things - in dehierarchized networks (Haraway, Latour, Barad). Posthumanist theories in general not only question the stability of the individual, liberal ego, but also draw attention to the modes of materialization of late capitalism, such as climate change or digitization. The project poses the question of how the category of gender is renegotiated under 'post-humanist' conditions. The subject of the investigation are

  1. the gender-theoretical discourse itself: Thus, the (supposedly) competing theoretical models of deconstructivism and postcolonial studies on the one hand and the approaches of New Materialism on the other are to be subjected to a revision and an analytical set of instruments is to be developed that is capable of grasping 'gender' in the interplay of meaningful symbolic processes and material orders;
  2. those representations of gender that emerge under the conditions of posthumanism in literary-artistic and (everyday) cultural productions. Art is understood as a form of knowledge that surpasses scientific or everyday knowledge.

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