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Posthuman Folklore

Posthuman Folklore

By Tok Thompson
Hardcover : 9781496825087, 214 pages, September 2019
Paperback : 9781496825094, 214 pages, September 2019

The first book-length study of how animal studies and digital culture change what it means to be “us”

Description

Can a monkey own a selfie? Can a chimp use habeas corpus to sue for freedom? Can androids be citizens? Increasingly, such difficult questions have moved from the realm of science fiction into the realm of everyday life, and scholars and laypeople alike are struggling to find ways to grasp new notions of personhood.

Posthuman Folklore is the first work of its kind: both an overview of posthumanism as it applies to folklore studies and an investigation of “vernacular posthumanisms”—the ways in which people are increasingly performing the posthuman. Posthumanism calls for a close investigation of what is meant by the term “human” and a rethinking of this, our most basic ontological category. What, exactly, is human? What, exactly, am I?

There are two main threads of posthumanism: the first dealing with the increasingly slippery slope between “human” and “animal,” and the second dealing with artificial intelligences and the growing cyborg quality of human culture. This work deals with both these threads, seeking to understand the cultural roles of this shifting notion of “human” by centering its investigation into the performances of everyday life.

From funerals for AIBOs, to furries, to ghost stories told by Alexa, people are increasingly engaging with the posthuman in myriad everyday practices, setting the stage for a wholesale rethinking of our humanity. In Posthuman Folklore, author Tok Thompson traces both the philosophies behind these shifts, and the ways in which people increasingly are enacting such ideas to better understand the posthuman experience of contemporary life.

Reviews

Posthuman Folklore is the first work of its kind: both an overview of posthumanism as it applies to folklore studies and an investigation of “vernacular posthumanisms”—the ways in which people are increasingly performing the posthuman.

- Alexandra Sanchez, AFS Review

Tok Thompson’s Posthuman Folklore is a wonderfully provocative collection of essays that, as a whole, asks us to reposition our thinking about the underlying assumptions of what it means to be human and, by extension, the dynamics of folklore.

- Timothy R. Tangherlini, University of California, Los Angeles, Journal of Folklore Research