Epistemological Misgivings of Karen Barad's 'Posthumanism'

Human Studies 37 (1):123-137 (2014)
Authors
Chris Calvert-Minor
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Abstract
Karen Barad develops a view she calls ‘posthumanism,’ or ‘agential realism,’ where the human is reconfigured away from the central place of explanation, interpretation, intelligibility, and objectivity to make room for the epistemic importance of other material agents. Barad is not alone in this kind of endeavor, but her posthumanism offers a unique epistemological position. Her aim is to take a performative rather than a representationalist approach to analyzing ‘socialnatural’ practices and challenge methodological assumptions that may go unnoticed in some disciplinary fields. Yet for all the good of the challenge, Barad must support it with sound epistemological theorizing, theorizing that would apply to any methodology, whether that be sociological, historical, anthropological, or philosophical. Thus, where one might critique Barad on her assessments of sociological, historical, or anthropological incorporations of humans and the nonhuman, I critique Barad’s epistemology on its sense of objectivity and dismissal of the centrality of the human. I argue that Barad’s epistemology must retain a particular form of humanism, a humanism that stakes human subjectivity as the locus of rationality and objectivity, without which it creates intractable problems. To recuperate Barad’s challenge to contest assumptive distinctions while avoiding her epistemological problems, I offer some parting reflections
Keywords Epistemology  Objectivity  Barad  Bohr  Humanism  Posthumanism  Matter
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DOI 10.1007/s10746-013-9285-x
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References found in this work BETA

Objectivity.Lorraine Daston - 2007 - the Mit Press.

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Matters of Fact, and the Fact of Matter.Michael Lynch - 2014 - Human Studies 37 (1):139-145.

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