Reified LifeSpeculative Capital and the Ahuman Condition

Reified LifeSpeculative Capital and the Ahuman Condition

J. Paul Narkunas

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780823280308

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

Reified Life: Speculative Capital and the Ahuman Condition addresses the most pressing political question of the 21st century: what forms of life are free and what forms are perceived legally and economically as surplus or expendable, human and otherwise. Reified Life theorizes the dangerous social implications of a posthuman future, whereby human agency is secondary to algorithmic processes, digital protocols, speculative financial instruments, and nonhuman market and technological forces. Narkunas contends that it is premature to speak of a posthuman or inhuman future, or employ an ‘ism, given how dynamic and contingent human practices and their material figurations can be. Over several chapters he diagnoses the rise of “market humans,” the instrumentalization of culture to decide the life worth living along utilitarian categories, and the varied ways human rights and humanitarianism actually throw members of the species like refugees outside the human order. Reified Life argues against posthumanist calls to abandon the human and humanism, and instead proposes the ahuman to think alongside the human. Reified Life elaborates speculative fictions as critical mechanisms for envisioning alternative futures and freedoms from the domineering forces of speculative capital, whose fictions have become our realities. Narkunas offers, to that end, a novel interpretation of the post-anthropocentric turn in the humanities by linking the diminished centrality of humanism to the waning dominion of nation-states over their populations and the intensification of financial capitalism, which reconfigures politics along economic categories of risk management.