Industrial processes are uncoupling life from death, diminishing death’s capacity to channel vitality back to the living. Colonial-capitalist logics continue to naturalize the exploitation of natural resources for human ends and the subjection of humans to racialized hierarchies of worth.
Posthumanist currents, such as the environmental humanities and new materialisms, foreground the entanglements of humans with plants, animals, microbes, and fungi, whose meaningful lives and deaths are thoroughly, if unevenly, intertwined with our social worlds. They also centre the agentic thrust and processual nature of matter in the co-production of meaning and experience. In doing so, these currents reframe other-than-human entities as matters of concern and care in an epoch of eco-social unraveling. But what happens when we think beyond the categories and boundaries of dominant scientific frameworks, including biology and species? What do alternative epistemologies reveal about the substance, scope, and spectrum of life and non-life? Alongside matter, what role do immaterial or non-secular beings play in the (un)making of politics, justice, and worlds? What, in sum, might it mean to imagine and engage with the world beyond bios? Centred around the themes of eco-materialities, techno-materialities, cosmo-materialities, and material afterlives, this collaborative project aims to interrogate, challenge, and circumvent dominant scientific taxonomic frameworks of species and rethink political forms and processes through a more-than-bios lens. In doing so, the project fosters decolonial and coalitional thinking to answer collectively the question: what is life?
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