Just a quick recap of some of the issues raised/discussed at our February meeting:
Questions of the disctinction between Man and Animal (the importance of language, gesture, knowing one’s own nature) and possible fluid boundaries between the two (are humans merely beasts who manage to control themselves?)
Other and Self, social constructs, and Agamben’s anthropological machine
The influence of film and image on ideas of man and animal, or even the concept of a hybrid monster
If the human is taken away from culture and society, does it become more like the animal?
Terraforming and ethical questions on environment, society, and mankind’s relationship with nature
The limits to human power and knowledge (where do humans go in a hierarchy of Being if aliens are added to the mix?)
Is another planet truly a blank slate? Who decides what to ‘do’ with it? Can science be used to ‘create’ nature?
To what degree can science fiction narratives inform us about questions of man’s relationship with nature and the environment?
Is ‘nature’ found only on earth? What is an alien nature?
We found the discussion very interesting and would like to thank everyone who attended. Also many thanks, of course, to our presenters:
Graiwoot Chulphongsathorn or “Tay” is a PhD student at the Department of Film Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. Before starting his PhD, he worked as a film critic in Thailand for 8 years. His PhD research is entitled ‘The Potential of Cinematic forest in Contemporary Art Cinema’. In this project, by focusing on festival films of the past ten years, he argues that the cinematic forest enables the state of a ‘non-anthropocentric’ space and redefines the concept of a human-animal distinction.
Chris Pak is a researcher on the Leverhulme funded project ‘People, Products, Pests and Pets: The Discursive Representation of the Animal’*1 at the University of Birmingham. He completed a thesis on environmental philosophy and ecopolitics in science fictional narratives of terraforming at the University of Liverpool but maintains interests in other fantastic and genre fictions, postmodernism and American literature. More information and links to essays and reviews can be found at his website.*2
Our next meeting will take place on 10 March, when we will be looking at the academic study of Disability.