Nick J Fox: The posthuman condition? A materialist odyssey from obesity to sexualities to ecology.

Event date: 
Wednesday 16 May
Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, 2 Hope Park Square

IASH and the School of Social and Political Science are pleased to invite to a guest lecture by Prof. N.J. Fox (Sheffield) on 16th May 2018 in the IASH Coffee room. Coffee available from 3pm for 3.30pm start.

The posthuman condition? A materialist odyssey from obesity to sexualities to ecology.

Nick J Fox

I would probably implicate myself as having veered towards (perhaps happily embraced) the late 20th century anti-humanist tendency within sociology.  But now, in my view, we need to move beyond a binary of humanism and anti-humanism, to embrace what scholars, especially feminist scholars, are now calling posthumanism.  Posthumanism does not deny human beings or the many things this species has achieved in artistic and scientific endeavour, but wishes to draw humans back into the fold of the entirety of nature, the world and the universe, and focus not on being but on becoming, on connection and possibilities.  It is an aspiration, to re-engage with a world from which human culture has spent so long distancing itself.

In this talk I will explore how this posthumanism, coupled with a ‘new materialist’ ontology, is informing my research on topics as disparate as obesity, digital technology and sexualisation.  But above all, it is informing explorations of environmental sustainability.  For Rosi Braidotti, for many others, and for me, the spur towards posthumanism is the environmental and ecological challenges planet Earth now faces from the effects of anthropogenic climate change.  It is for this reason that ecological sociology now needs a posthuman sociological imagination that can both cut across artificial culture/nature boundaries and embrace the unique capacities of humans which could still save the planet.

Biographical Note

Professor Nick J Fox has spent most of his career at the University of Sheffield, where he is currently honorary professor of sociology in the School of Health and Related Research.  His first book ‘The Social Meaning of Surgery’ (Open University Press, 1993) was based on doctoral work, but was followed by a shift of interest toward postmodern social theory, which has been central to all his subsequent work and has developed into a comprehensive approach to materialist sociology and research methodology, with empirical work on care, studies of anorexia and obesity, work on internet technologies, pharmaceuticals and digital devices.  His book ‘The Body’ (Polity, 2012) drew on these strands to set out a materialist analysis of health, embodiment and care.  Recently, Nick has extended his work beyond health and illness, to address sexualities and sexualisation, creativity, and environmental sustainability, all from within a materialist and posthuman theoretical framing.  His book ‘Sociology and the New Materialism’ (Sage, 2017; with Pam Alldred) aims to supply students and academics with a materialist toolkit for sociological inquiry across the discipline.