Posthumanism refers to a theoretical framework in which the human is decentered in a time of technological development, the crisis of climate change, and advanced capitalism. This perspective reevaluates the relationship between the human and the non-human world. The non-human can be biological, material, or technological.
The Latin prefix ‘post’ suggests that the posthuman comes after the human, but this linear framework does not hold for posthumanism. Rather, the term posthuman interrogates what it means to be human. A posthuman perspective involves an act of decentering the human. The origins of the term posthuman are not entirely clear, but generally a performative piece by the literary scholar Ihab Hassan (1977) is taken as the starting point of a posthumanist culture in the humanities. He suggests reevaluating the relationship between humans and non-humans, especially with respect to technology and the environment. The notion of the posthuman gained wider currency with N. Katherine Hayles’ book How We Became Posthuman (1999), in which she processed the accelerated change invoked by information technologies and critically assessed the techno-optimist rhetoric of the last decades of the twentieth century. Posthumanist theory claims that in this time and age the human is decentered by technological developments and advanced capitalism.