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Message posted on 16/02/2021

CFP (4S 2021): Nonhuman Phenomenology and Technoscientific Intersubjectivity

Dear colleagues,

Claire Isabel Webb and I invite submissions for our open panel , “Nonhuman Phenomenology and Technoscientific Subjectivity,” to be held at the 4S conference this year. We invite you to consider this question: “How do epistemologies of the senses—the confrontation of the gaze, the immersive quality of sound, the intimacy of touch—cultivate interspecies knowledge-making?”

Located in Toronto from October 6th through the 9th, this hybrid conference will feature both in-person and virtual components, under the theme of “Good Relations: Practices and Methods in Unequal and Uncertain Worlds.” Abstracts will be due on March 8th and should be uploaded to the 4S platform .

Please feel free to circulate our CFP among your relevant networks, and do not hesitate to reach out to either of us if you have any questions about the panel or the submission process.

Thank you,


  1. Nonhuman Phenomenology and Multispecies Intersubjectivity

Vilem Flusser wrote that human knowledge of animal minds must navigate between the “Scylla of anthropocentric arrogance” and the “Charybdis of nostalgie de la boue” (2012). While nonhuman modes of sensing are often athwart to or simply alien from human phenomenologies, technoscientific actors enact enmeshments with such Others in radical forms of relational world-making—for instance, with brittlestars (Barad 2007) and with dogs (Haraway 2008). This panel explores the discourses, values, and practices through which scientists, technologists, and designers speculate on and care about nonhuman modes of sensation.

Over the past decade, scholars have described how our knowledge of nonhuman phenomenology is mediated by language (Kohn 2013), sentiment (Sharp 2019), gesture (Kalshoven 2018), and care (Wanderer 2018; cf. Candea 2010). Building on this work, we invite panelists to reflect on how the production of knowledge about nonhuman minds informs experimental and technical design and, in turn, how such designs affect the epistemological possibilities of knowing “what it is like to be” nonhuman (see Nagel 1974). How do epistemologies of the senses—the confrontation of the gaze (Derrida 1997), the immersive quality of sound (Roosth 2009), the intimacy of touch (Hayward 2010)—cultivate interspecies knowledge-making?

We welcome papers from a range of theoretical, methodological, and topical perspectives that examine the dialectic of human perception and nonhuman sensibility. Submissions may include empirical studies of the experimental and technical infrastructures through which nonhuman phenomenologies are grasped or theoretical examinations of human-nonhuman intersubjectivity (not just between biological organisms but also with AI and machines).


Keywords: Nonhuman phenomenology; multispecies and animal studies; design; sensation and perception; intersubjectivity

-- Richard Alexander Fadok, PhD Candidate Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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