About this Research Topic
One of the major challenges facing society in the 21st century -- as well as sociology and social theory -- is the challenge of living better together. Many of the headline stories in the world's newspapers -- from terrorist attacks to Brexit; from hate crimes against LGBTQ+2S persons to rising inequality; from civil wars and environmental crises to the place of Aboriginal persons around the world; from unwilling refugees to willing labour migrants -- can be traced in part to our ideas about social inclusion: whose life is valid and valuable enough to count as worthy of ethical concern and social action.
Sociologists and social theorists have attempted to comprehend and prognosticate about the possibilities for changing mechanisms of social inclusion. Cosmopolitanisms, decolonial and post-colonial thinkers, and others have worked to formulate analyses of the ways that people live together in spaces of social exclusion and to proffer possible forms of social reorganisation that would allow people to live better together. Through these fields of study, a greater orientation to our social future has arisen; we have come to understand that our future as a species — and perhaps also the future between species — depends on rethinking the borders and boundaries on maps and in minds that separate us.
But, given the current societal problems and environmental constraints we face, what kinds of futures do we face as we debate the limit conditions and futures of “the human”? Standard cosmopolitanism appears to depend on the primacy of the Liberal Enlightenment conception of the human individual endowed with basic human rights and, is, as such, grounded in Humanism. The 21st century, however, sees widespread engagement with the advanced digital technologies of the information age extending human boundaries beyond just the global to increasingly planetary, post-planetary, and even trans-human scales. In both so-called ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ societies, the enmeshing of humans, information, digital assemblages, and capital promises more possibility, more freedom, more inclusivity, more transparency, and more innovation, perhaps, as transhumanists argue, yielding a desirable, if not inevitable future for humans. Transhuman cosmopolitanists might seek to extend the concept of cosmopolitan citizenship beyond the limits of past definitions of the ‘human’ to include non-human and machinic life-forms, and perhaps even hybrid non/human interfaces. But this massive transformation of humanisms and cosmopolitanisms may also leave us complicit with the inequities and inequalities produced by a hyper-consumptive, hyper-technical form of capitalism, perhaps reproducing the assimilation of the postcolonial condition into new forms of colonization. This set of possibilities and challenges demand analysis and theoretical intervention.
This Research Topic proposes to explore the variety of ways in which these issues have been analysed, theorised, and speculated upon. The editors are looking for this Research Topic to comprise a variety of perspectives -- from above and below, from Global North and Global South -- that address key concerns regarding social inclusion, (trans)humanisms, and our global and planetary futures. This Research Topic seeks papers that, inter alia, focus on the following areas of interest:
1- Rethinking ‘Humanism’ in light of the ‘Posthuman turn’, focusing on interventions between cosmopolitanism, postcolonialism, critical theory, subaltern studies, post-structuralism, feminisms, and new materialisms.
2- Analyses and discussions of theoretical and empirical challenges of both ‘human,’ ‘non-human’, and ‘posthuman’ spatio-temporalities, ontologies, epistemologies, as well as their consequences for social values and political practices;
3- Exploration of teletechnologies and the ethics of human/animal/machine interfaces; the (im)possibility of ethics, e.g., ‘non-standard’ and/or ‘hybrid’ theories of posthumanism, cosmopolitanism, and subalternity.
4- Normative interventions regarding the linkages between humanism, globalism, technologies, social inclusion, and possible futures of the transhumanist “suprahuman machine.”
Keywords: global theory, social inclusion, cosmopolitanism, transhumanism, futures
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.