Gaining ground: towards a discourse of posthuman animality: a geophilosophical journey

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Schillmoller, A 2011, 'Gaining ground: towards a discourse of posthuman animality: a geophilosophical journey', paper presented to the Earth jurisprudence: building theory and practice: the 3rd Wild Law Conference, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD, 16-18 September.

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Written as a travelogue, and employing geospatial metaphors, the paper is an exploration of animality. In it, ‘the traveller’ provides an account of a journey in which she attempts to trouble the sovereign terrain of liberal humanism. Her hope is to identify a non hegemonic conceptual frontier, a reciprocal ground of animality, upon which humanism might be surrendered.

The traveller encounters numerous obstacles along the way; most significantly, those of anthropocentrism and biocentrism. As a human animal, she comes to appreciate that there are insurmountable difficulties in conceiving, let alone representing, other-than-human animality as an entity independent of her perceptions. In common with others of her species who mediate their lives through language, she realises that her relationship to the world is negotiated within a matrix of representations in which the ‘animal other’ is assimilated into a pre-existing humanist narrative. Instead of ‘troubling’ liberal humanism, the traveller’s journey becomes a journey of trouble, a nomadic wandering through error. She concedes that her journey is not so much about animality, but about the impossibility of thinking outside of human existence. She learns that, no matter how hard we (humans) may try to imagine non human animality, we will be condemned to meet our own projections. Such insights, however, provide a ground upon which a discourse of animality which avoids the spectre of humanism emerges.