Posted by: Johan Normark | May 28, 2011

Humans and nonhumans

I visited my earlier post at Anthropologies tonight and saw a comment posted a few days ago. The commentator, Rex from Savage Minds, argues that anthropology has been focusing on objects as nodes of a network that includes both humans and nonhumans for a decade or so (Alfred Gell, Tim Ingold, and various Latourians). That is exactly the problem I was attempting to adress. By simply differentiating between humans (on one side) and the quite broad category of nonhumans (atoms, calculators, planets, comic books, bubblegums, chimpanzees, etc.) on the other side one is still maintaining an anthropocentric perspective where the human is much more specific and important than all other objects. Not much has actually changed since “nonhuman” simply is a negation of the human. It is based on dialectics and one category is based on its relation to the other category. It is simply relationism. Objects should rather be defined from their own characteristics, not from their possible entanglement with humans. Tim Morton stated, a few months ago, that anthropology needs a speculative turn. Archaeology is a discipline that claims to study objects but it is still far from object-oriented and it definitely need a speculative turn more than anthropology.

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