Call: Human & Machine: Posthumanism in Technology, Culture, and the Arts

Human & Machine: Posthumanism in Technology, Culture, and the Arts
Ewha Trans-Humanities Research Team, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea


The Ewha Trans-Humanities Research Team will host an international conference on “Human & Machine: Posthumanism in Technology, Culture and the Arts” from June 1st to 2nd, 2012 and invites suitable contributions for presentation at the conference.

Genetic engineering and digital technology are more than just supplement of human intellectual and physical ability; they seem to bring fundamental changes to the nature of what it means to be human. Such changes have been seen in how philosophy, literature, art, technology and cultural discourse view the issue of individual and group identities, the nature of human characteristics, the meaning of life, the status of humans in nature and other relevant issues taken from ethical and political perspectives. In this conference, the subject of humans and technology, both of which are represented in the debate on posthumanism, will be deeply discussed from a multidisciplinary perspective focusing on the topics of: Human Body Transformation in Science, Technology, and Art; Ethical Issues on Human Enhancement; Representations of Posthumans in Popular Culture; and Posthumanistic Impact on Human Ontology.

The conference poses the question as to whether or not technology has influenced the perspective of being human and the nature of humanity itself. The conference examine the aspects of the human body that have been transformed through technology and their significance: How have physical transformations through prostheses, implants, genetic engineering, and organ transplants influenced human identity? How are the ethical issues, that such transformations generate, demonstrated in the arts? Given the phenomenon that human beings can reconstruct themselves with machines as well as utilize machines, what is the meaning of post-human embedded within the interaction between human-like robots and human beings, or the combination of technology and human-beings? These questions are to be discussed in the conference.

Human enhancement and transformation technology, which cutting edge technology will make possible, demand our serious consideration since the diverse aspects of being human in the future rely on a variety of ethical and political issues including the rationality and validity of the application of such technologies. The conference endeavors to find answers to the fundamental questions of how to define what is the norm in the nature of being human, and what natural rights for human beings are, followed by which values are to be respected in the era of cutting edge technology.

Furthermore, the conference examines aspects of representations of posthumans like human clones, androids, cyborgs and aliens which depict new forms of human beings, through the image of the future presented in popular culture such as SF movies, animations, SF novels, music videos and TV commercials. And also, there will be a discussion of public awareness on the notions of naturalness, otherness, class, utopia and dystopia related with such popular culture. As human beings attain the ability and skill to reconstruct their bodies through substitution, the boundaries between the human body and its image, the lines between what is artificial and what is natural, and the distinctions between nature and culture disappear. This phenomenon raises various ontological issues regarding the relationships of the real body and the virtual body, life and lifelessness, and the subject and its surroundings or ‘others’. Posthumanism pursues, on one hand, a liberal and post-ideological relativism, but on the other hand, it tends to combine with the critical theories, materialism and feminism. How can individual transhumans and posthumans be positioned in social systems and relations? Indeed, do human beings have the freedom to choose a body for themselves? If so, how and where can we apply our enhanced abilities? To what extent can it be considered an individual matter or a social and political matter? Through posing the issues and problems on modern anthropocentricism, this conference reconsiders the human ontology that is constantly changing and being reconstructed rather than the one that is defined by identity in the nature of transcendental property.

A tentative schedule of the conference is as follows:

June 1st
Session 1: Human Body Transformation in Science, Technology, and Art
Session 2: Ethical Issues on Human Enhancement
Roundtable Discussions: all speakers and discussants will participate in

June 2nd
Session 3: Representations of Posthumans in Popular Culture
Session 4: Posthumanistic Impact on Human Ontology
Roundtable Discussions: all speakers and discussants will participate in

Confirmed Speakers include Julian Savulescu (Oxford University), Dónal O’Mathúna (Dublin City University), Michael Hauskeller (University of Exeter), Thomas Philbeck (NYIT), Stefan Sorgner (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg),  and Jens Eder (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz).

If you like to present a paper at the conference, please submit an abstract of not more than 400 words by 29 February 2012 to Dr. Eunryung Kim, e-mail:

Dr. Eunryung Kim (HK Research Professor)
Ewha Institute for the Humanities, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea
Tel: 82-2-3277-6732
Fax: 82-2-3277-6598


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