“As far as the posthuman debate is concerned, there are no grounds for plunging into melancholy metaphysical ruminations about the end of the world. We need energizing projects that express generative narratives and do not wallow in the rhetoric of crisis. Especially when the crisis in question is to a certain extent the lament of white European cultures feeling vulnerable after they have become aware of how anthropogenic global risks are likely to affect them. They need to develop some decolonial perspective.” Rosi Braidotti (2019: 69) on the role of the humanities and its crisis in Posthuman Knowledge (Polity Press)
At the height of the COVID-19 crisis in the Swedish medical system, it might appear hard-hearted to urge us all to not wallow in the melancholia of crisis. However, the energizing projects Braidotti refers to, and we add, the societal collaborations presently exercised in the most surprising places, is exactly what is needed now in society at large. Take the environmental humanities, medical humanities, technohumanities, bioart, collaborative natural sciences and their convergences internationally: many of us have persistently called for radical socioeconomic change, and now we are faced with just that. At a large scale. It is just that it happened in a way that we are not in a position to easily absorb just yet. Theory can wait, slow as it is at its best.
Clearly the impact of COVID-19 is a significant challenge – especially in relation to the vastness of what we do not know, and the humbleness called for by that insight. Yet also, the impact of COVID-19 also takes us to the threshold of societal re-assessments, reimaginings and new beginnings. And we are swiftly learning new things about ourselves, about how we can “stay together apart (in the trouble)” with social distancing and solidarity. (If we can play with the conceptual work of Donna Haraway and Karen Barad). Let us all continue with care, concern and curiosity with one-another. In this there is hope. Call someone you have not talked to for a while, check in with your students, PhD students, or old supervisors, volunteer at the hospital, do shopping for the elderly or other vulnerable members of society, tend to your garden, and focus the force on the piles of books you have always wanted to read.
The world is changing, again, but it is not coming to an end.
Stay safe and well in there!!
Cecilia, Janna and Marietta for The Posthumanities Hub