Special Issue "Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts'"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2016).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Myra Mendible
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language and Literature, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd, South, Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565, USA
Interests: cultural theory; ethnicity and race; human rights; media culture; literature and politics; gender and emotion

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue comes at a time when the humanities face conceptual, theoretical, and ethical challenges from within their own ranks, as post-racial and post-human discourses problematize or reject many of their foundational principles. The defining boundaries of both “race” and “human” have been radically called into question, challenging us to rethink the classificatory systems that found hierarchical relationships between, for example, the “fully human” and sub-human or non-human others. What is at stake for the humanities in this presumably post-racial, post-human age, and, in particular, how are we to reimagine racial equality or human rights as sustainable political projects? As Nadia Abu El-Haj puts it, “[W]hat kinds of human collectivities can be recognized at all and, as such, can emerge as ‘populations’ with ‘histories’ that can be read and told?” (2011). This critical engagement is especially urgent given the increasingly precarious conditions and acts of violence endured by members of target “human collectivities” across the globe.

We invite papers from an international community of humanities scholars interested in exploring this complex theoretical terrain and its implications for our understanding of “race” and the “human” in literature, politics, and ethics.  Potential topics include:

  • Post-racial discourse and “color-blind” policies;
    • The ethics and politics of the “post-human”;
    • Postcolonialism’s “Ecological Turn”
    • The Post-human/Post-racial in literature and art
    • Speciesism and its Discontents
    • Racialized religious, ethnic, or regional collectivities
    • The Humanities in the Anthropocene
    • White privilege and “human” supremacy;
    • Humanism and neoliberal economics;
    • Brains, Bodies, and the Science of Race;
    • Putting the Human back in “Race”
    • Race and the “post-political” (Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, Slavoj Zizek)
    • Intersections between Animal, Human, and Civil Rights
    • Patriarchy, Racism, and “Nature”

Prof. Dr. Myra Mendible
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript.

References:
Anderson, Kay. Race and the Crisis of Humanism. New York: Routledge, 2007.
Claire Jean Kim and Carla Freccero. “Introduction: A Dialogue.” American Quarterly 65.3 (2013): 461-479.
Huggan, Grant and Helen Tiffin. Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment. New York: Routledge, 2015.
Lentin, Alana. Post-Race, Post Politics: The Paradoxical rise of Culture after Multiculturalism.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 37.8 (2014): 1268-1285.
Macaya, Ángeles Donoso and González, Melissa M. “Orthodox Transgressions: The ideology of Cross-Species, Cross-Class, and Interracial Queerness in Lucía Puenzo's novel El Niño Pez (The Fish Child).” American Quarterly 65.3 (2013): 711-733,765-767.
Paul, Joshua. “Post-Racial Futures: Imagining Post-Racialist Anti-Racism(s).” Ethnic and Racial Studies 37.4 (2014): 702-718.
Sewpaul, Vishanthie. “Inscribed in Our Blood.” Affilia 28.2 (2013): 116-125.

Keywords

  • race
  • identity
  • post-race
  • post-human
  • post-humanism
  • critical race theory
  • identity politics

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Introduction: Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of “Posts”—Rethinking the Human/Race
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6010005 - 08 Mar 2017
Abstract
This Special Issue of Humanities comes at a time when the viability of the humanities are challenged on numerous fronts. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
Post What? Disarticulating Post-Discourses in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child
Humanities 2016, 5(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5040080 - 27 Sep 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
In the midst of the proliferation of post-discourses, this essay investigates how Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child (2015) offers a timely exploration of the hurting Black female body that calls into question, if not outright refutes, whether Americans have entered a post-racial, [...] Read more.
In the midst of the proliferation of post-discourses, this essay investigates how Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child (2015) offers a timely exploration of the hurting Black female body that calls into question, if not outright refutes, whether Americans have entered a post-racial, post-Black, and post-feminist era. This essay opens with a critical context section that situates God Help the Child within and against post-discourses, before examining how resemblances with Morrison’s prior works like Beloved (1987) and The Bluest Eye (1970) confirm that the legacy of slavery still dictates the way Black female bodies are seen and treated in twenty-first-century America. Ultimately, what this study intends is to speak the unspeakable: race still matters despite the silencing effects of post-discourses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
Open AccessArticle
Vulnerable Life: Zombies, Global Biopolitics, and the Reproduction of Structural Violence
Humanities 2016, 5(3), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5030071 - 25 Aug 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
This essay offers an intervention in biopolitical theory—using the term “vulnerable life” to recalibrate discussions of how life is valued and violence is justified in the contemporary bioinsecurity regime. It reads the discursive structures that dehumanize and pathologize figures in U.S. zombie narratives [...] Read more.
This essay offers an intervention in biopolitical theory—using the term “vulnerable life” to recalibrate discussions of how life is valued and violence is justified in the contemporary bioinsecurity regime. It reads the discursive structures that dehumanize and pathologize figures in U.S. zombie narratives against the discursive structures present in contemporary legal narratives and media reports on the killing of black Americans. Through this unsettling paralleling of structures, the essay suggests how the current ubiquity of zombies and the profusion of racial tension in the U.S. are related. In the process, the essay emphasizes the highly racialized nature of the zombie itself—which has never been the empty signifier it is often read as—and drives home just how dangerous the proliferation of postracial and posthuman discourses can be if they serve to elide historical limitations about the highly political determinations of just who is quite human. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
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Open AccessArticle
Posthuman Ethics, Violence, Creaturely Suffering and the (Other) Animal: Schnurre’s Postwar Animal Stories
Humanities 2016, 5(3), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5030069 - 19 Aug 2016
Abstract
The othering of whole groups of people in a biopolitical discourse during the Third Reich has caused many to re-assess ethics that is based on specific categories. Adorno and Horkheimer reckoned with both Enlightenment as well as classical “humanist” discourses to question whether [...] Read more.
The othering of whole groups of people in a biopolitical discourse during the Third Reich has caused many to re-assess ethics that is based on specific categories. Adorno and Horkheimer reckoned with both Enlightenment as well as classical “humanist” discourses to question whether they imply structures that lead to fascism. In the wake of these arguments, classical humanist (or sometimes also called anthropocentric) ethics have also been criticized by philosophers such as Agamben, Derrida, and Wolfe. It is thus time to work on posthuman(ist) ethics that avoids the traps of a narrow human ethics and that is inclusive rather than exclusive. The short stories by postwar German author Wolfdietrich Schnurre, written in the wake of the Holocaust, reckon with a purely human-centered worldview and draw a bleak picture of an anthropocentrically structured and valued world. Under the surface that portrays a speciesist world, Schnurre employs a network of sub-discourses to “cave out” carno-phallogocentric discourses and point towards a different, post-human ethics. This paper examines how anthropocentric discourses of power lead to inhumane violence and how a different approach to the Other, based on empathy and shared vulnerability, might just move us beyond it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
Open AccessArticle
Of Pomo Academicus, Reconsidered
Humanities 2016, 5(3), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5030066 - 02 Aug 2016
Abstract
This article considers the relationship between what would generally be viewed as a postmodern perspective and the rise and multiple use of the prefix “post” by those arguing that we are finally beyond certain oppressive political, cultural and social issues, and dynamics, such [...] Read more.
This article considers the relationship between what would generally be viewed as a postmodern perspective and the rise and multiple use of the prefix “post” by those arguing that we are finally beyond certain oppressive political, cultural and social issues, and dynamics, such as the racist and sexist ideologies that have historically permeated and plagued our nation’s institutions, including higher education. Many of those who champion the prefix “post” assert that they offer us a narrative, description and framework of a post-racial and post-feminist era that they want us to acknowledge and embrace. I, however, claim that such a utilization and imposition (as opposed to the more generous sounding “offer”) of the various “posts” that we have been presented with are, more often than not, precisely little more than reactionary moves to reestablish and reaffirm the very type of thinking and structure that we have allegedly moved beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
Open AccessArticle
Ethical Universals in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies: A Posthumanist Critique of Universal Human Rights
Humanities 2016, 5(3), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5030064 - 29 Jul 2016
Abstract
The debate on universality in current human rights scholarship has been overly limited. Commonly, the idea is either dismissed as Eurocentric or it is compared to a global political consensus. I evoke certain alternate and underexplored views on the topic from literary and [...] Read more.
The debate on universality in current human rights scholarship has been overly limited. Commonly, the idea is either dismissed as Eurocentric or it is compared to a global political consensus. I evoke certain alternate and underexplored views on the topic from literary and culture studies. Scholars like Kwame Appiah, Patrick Hogan and Seyla Benhabib have articulated principles that include patterns of non-coercive ethical thinking emergent across diverse cultures, particularly the way minority cultures ethically respond to oppression. I argue that human rights practices may be fruitfully guided by the way minority cultures around the world evoke ethical universals to challenge violations. To develop this, I consider Amitav Ghosh’s novel Sea of Poppies that treats the issue of colonialism in South Asia during the 19th century. Ghosh foreshadows the arrival of human rights in two ways. He shows that a conception human rights has origins in Western colonialism, precisely in the colonial idea of civilizing mission. But more importantly, he demonstrates that ethical universals allow colonized characters in the novel to form cross-cultural solidarities that subvert colonialism through conceptions of universal human rights. This understanding of universality is largely missing in current human rights scholarship, with consequences that extend well beyond Ghosh’s novel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
Open AccessArticle
Zombies and Refugees: Variations on the “Post-human” and the “Non-human” in Robin Campillo’s Les Revenants (2004) and Fabrice Gobert’s Les Revenants (2012–2015)
Humanities 2016, 5(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5030048 - 23 Jun 2016
Abstract
This article examines the use of the zombie (or the “returned,” the literal translation of the French term “revenant”) in Fabrice Gobert’s French series Les Revenants (2012–2015) as a narrative trope that evokes the recent wave of migration from Syria into Europe. In [...] Read more.
This article examines the use of the zombie (or the “returned,” the literal translation of the French term “revenant”) in Fabrice Gobert’s French series Les Revenants (2012–2015) as a narrative trope that evokes the recent wave of migration from Syria into Europe. In parallel, this article addresses Robin Campillo’s 2004 original feature Les Revenants as it served as an inspiration for Gobert’s work in 2012. Campillo’s work, like Gobert’s, is rooted in the treatment of refugees in France. Following the forceful closing of the Sangatte refugee camp in Calais in 2002, the Moroccan-born French filmmaker expressed his concern for the treatment of Others in France through the figure of the zombie, eventually initiating a new genre in French fiction that would serve to express and denounce the characterization of Others in France as “non-human.” Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
Open AccessArticle
Post What? The Liminality of Multi-Racial Identity
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020046 - 18 Jun 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
This article, “Post What? The Liminality of Multi-Racial Identity,” argues that the successes and failures of 21st-century satire reveal the myth of post-raciality while simultaneously dismissing racial essentialism. I focus on three critical moments: the commercial success of Mat Johnson’s Loving Day, [...] Read more.
This article, “Post What? The Liminality of Multi-Racial Identity,” argues that the successes and failures of 21st-century satire reveal the myth of post-raciality while simultaneously dismissing racial essentialism. I focus on three critical moments: the commercial success of Mat Johnson’s Loving Day, a text and forthcoming television show that examines the shifting self-identities of mixed-race individuals; the inability of a potential love interest on the television series, Louie, to accept a black woman as the ex-wife of the titular protagonist’s phenotypically white daughters; and Barack Obama’s self-designation as “black” on the census shortly after his election. I argue that the widespread reach of these instances, coupled with audience engagement and response, underscores the ways that the public realm frames a contemporary understanding of race as both meaningful and absurd. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Politics, and the Humanities in an Age of 'Posts')
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