Transhuman and anti-speciesist? Humans, non-humans, and cultural ecology in transhumanist utopia
With a rich corpus of images that influenced cultures all over the world, the idea of human/animal mimicry or even hybridization is neither unfamiliar nor unprecedented. In more recent times, speciesism and the theoretical implications of trans- and posthumanism have drawn from the rich well of mythology that informed literary genres such as fantasy and science fiction, to create new models of interaction between human and non-human animals that attempt to break the mold of nature and culture as opposites. Through the analysis of Motherlines by Suzy McKee Charnas and the MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood, this paper aims to argue the hypotheses of anti-speciesism in literary models of transhumanism relying on human/animal hybridization in post-apocalyptic societies, focusing on its underlying anthropocentrism in a perspective deeply rooted in cultural ecology. In the same perspective, we will observe the modes of interaction between human and non-human animals according to what transhumanists define as ‘uplifting’ (Dvorsky, 2008), and we will highlight the ways in which human/animal hybridization can fuel new utopian narratives for the survival and rebirth of collapsed societies, in order to argue how anti-speciesism does not find their proper place in this brave new interspecies and transhumanist world.
Atwood, Margaret (2009), The Year of the Flood, New York, Anchor Books.
Atwood, Margaret (2011), In other worlds: SF and the human imagination, London, Virago.
Atwood, Margaret (2013), MaddAddam, New York, Anchor Books.
Bostrom, Nick (2003), ‘Transhumanist Values’, in Adams, Frederick (ed.), Ethical Issues for the 21st Century, Philosophical Documentation Center Press, 3-14,
Bulgakov, Michail (2011), Cuore di cane, in Id., Cuore di cane e Uova fatali, Milano, Feltrinelli.
Caronia, Antonio (2020), Dal cyborg al postumano. Biopolitica del corpo artificiale, Milano, Meltemi.
Charnas, Suzy McKee (1995), Holdfast Chronicles. Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, London, The Women’s Press.
Cavalcanti, Ildney (2003), ‘The Writing of Utopia and the Feminist Critical Dystopia: Suzy McKee Charnas’s Holdfast Series’, in Baccolini, Raffaella; Moylan, Tom (eds.), Dark Horizons. Science Fiction and the Dystopian Imagination, New York, Routledge, 47-68.
Crutzen, Paul J.; Stoermer, Eugene F. (2000), ‘The ‘Anthropocene’’, IGBP Global Change Newsletter 41, 17-18.
Descola, Philippe (2014), Oltre natura e cultura, Firenze, SEID Editori.
Dvorsky, George (2008), ‘All Together Now: Developmental and ethical considerations for biologically uplifting nonhuman animals’, Journal of Evolution and Technology 18 (2), 129-142,
Federici, Eleonora (2015), Quando la fantascienza è donna. Dalle utopia femminili del secolo XIX all’età contemporanea, Roma, Carocci.
Ferrando, Francesca (2016), ‘The Party of the Anthropocene. Post-humanism, Enviromentalism, and the Post-anthropocentric Paradigm Shift’, Relations 4 (2), 159-173.
Fukuyama, Francis (2003), Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giraux.
Gordon, Joan (1999), ‘Closed Systems Kill: An Interview with Suzy McKee Charnas’, Science Fiction Studies, 79 (26), 447-468,
Haraway, Donna (2021), Manifesto Cyborg, Milano, Feltrinelli.
Howells, Coral Ann (ed.) (2021), The Cambridge Companion to Margaret Atwood, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Marks de Marques, Eduardo (2015), ‘Children of Oryx, Children of Crake, Children of Man: Redefining the Post/Transhuman in Margaret Atwood’s ‘ustopian’ MaddAddam Trilogy’, Aletria 25 (3), 133-146.
Mohr, Dunja M. (2007), ‘Transgressive utopian dystopias: the postmodern reappearance of utopia in the disguise of dystopia’, Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik (ZAA) 55 (1), 7-25.
Postigo Solana, Elena (2009), ‘Transumanesimo e postumano: principi teorici e implicazioni bioetiche’, Medicina e Morale 2, 267-282.
Tsitas, Evelyn (2014), ‘Boundary Transgressions: The Human-Animal Chimera in Science Fiction’, Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism 2 (2), 97-112.
Wells, Herbert G. (2011), L’isola del Dottor Moreau, Milano, Mursia.
Wolfe, Cary (2010), What is Posthumanism?, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.
Zapf, Hubert (2010), ‘Ecocriticism, Cultural Ecology, and Literary Studies’, Ecozon@, 1 (1), 136-147.