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Posthumanities Publishing

This is an 'authors-cut' version of the abstract Janneke Adema and I have put together for our forthcoming presentation at the Institute of Network Cultures' 'Urgent Publishing: New Strategies for Publishing in Post-Truth Times', Making Public conference Arnhem, 15-16 May. Janneke and I are speaking with Lídia Pereira and Axel Andersson on the 'The Carrier Bag Theory of Non-Fiction' session. 


This plural-voiced presentation will focus on what publishing does rather than what publishing is. It will intervene in the debate over publishing in the post-truth era by shifting the focus away from a hegemonic, modular, object-centered understanding of modularity, toward a more relational model of posthumanities publishing. Here research, reading, writing and the published text (not to mention software, the market and the commons) are understood as emerging from the intra-actions of a heterogeneous constellation of both human and nonhuman actors, many of which are ignored by existing theories of media. Drawing boundaries – whether it involves conceptualising information containers via the figure of the net, leaf or carrier bag – is still recognised as unavoidable from such a posthumanistic perspective. For us, then, it is a matter of drawing the boundaries differently, in a manner that does not impose on such relational intra-actions a version of capitalism’s old, closed, pre-digital logic. The latter emphasizes the finished object that is made rather than the process of making, as under existing IP law only the discrete finished object, be it a book, zine or platform, can be turned into a marketable commodity (not the idea or creative process itself).

This collaborative presentation will proceed to discuss processual posthumanities publishing experiments that have emphasised different forms of relationality – forms that do not revolve primarily around the published text-as-object, or indeed the individual human author-as-subject. In discussing these experiments it will show strategising publishing in terms of urgent and non-urgent, fast and slow can be unhelpful: the art of critique requires its own pace. It is not even certain publishing in our post-truth, postdigital era still means ‘making public’.


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