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"'Fear Narratives' and their Role/Use in the United States"

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10) "Posthuman Ethics and Accountability in Anthropocene Narratives"
Panel Chair: María Ferrández San Miguel and Mónica Calvo Pascual, Universidad de Zaragoza
E-mail: mfsm@unizar.es, mocalvo@unizar.es 


The early twenty-first century is marked by the proliferation of dystopian fictional narratives and apocalyptic scenarios triggered by the threat of populist political totalitarianisms, techno-scientific excesses or environmental devastation. Within this proliferation of fear narratives, the boom of climate fiction (cli-fi) can be related to the increasing awareness of living in the age of the Anthropocene, an epoch that is defined by "human-induced climatic, biological, and geological transformations of our planet" (Åsberg 187). As Rosi Braidotti explains, this stresses "both the technologically mediated power acquired by anthropos and its potentially lethal consequences for everyone else" in the era of advanced capitalism (66).

Within this context, the representation of the posthuman being challenges the anthropocentric division of the world into human and Other and undermines the nature-culture divide as "human and anthropomorphic others are relocated in a continuum with non-anthropomorphic, animal or 'earth' others" (Braidotti 95). As a result of the emphasis on human beings' interconnection and constitutive interdependency with other non-human entities, the category of the human is displaced and shown to be "always already othered" (Nayar 23). Thus, from the perspective of the posthuman, the encounter with the Other entails the recognition and assimilation of the trace of the Other within the self, leading to hybridization and to the transformation of human subjectivity.

As a number of prominent critics of the posthuman have noted, strong ethical and political possibilities emerge from the profound sense of entanglement between nature and culture. Donna Haraway was among the first to direct our attention towards a new model of posthuman ethics that stresses the importance of reconsidering the relationships between humans, non-human animals, techno-others (i.e. cyborgs) and the environment (1991, 2003, 2008). Theories of a posthuman ethics are commonly grounded on the belief that human activities and practices are not only intermeshed with the wider world and its non-human—and earth—others, but also accountable to them, which leads to considerations of exploitation and sustainability (see Wolfe 2010 and Braidotti 2013).

This panel seeks contributions that focus on the representation, in contemporary U.S. fiction, of human responsibility and accountability for the oppression of the non-human Other and for the anthropogenic transformations of the environment.



Abstracts of Proposals are to be e-mailed directly to the chair of the selected panel using this form. The deadline for submitting abstracts is October 15, 2020. Panel chairs are expected to accept/reject proposals and have panels set up by November 15.


Non-members of SAAS (of all nationalities) are welcome to participate in the conference, but will be required to pay membership dues for one year as well as the conference registration fee. Members of ASA (American Studies Association), AISNA (Associazione Italiana di Studi Nor-Americani), APEAA (Portuguese Association for Anglo-American Studies) and HELAAS (Hellenic Association for American Studies) need only pay the conference registration fee.

Further guideliness for participants can be found here.

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