PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

“Transhumanism” or “human enhancement” refers to an intellectual and cultural movement that advocates the use of a variety of emerging technologies. The convergence of these technologies may make it possible to take control of human evolution, providing for "desirable" physical, moral, affective, and cognitive enhancements and the amelioration of aspects of the human condition regarded as undesirable. These enhancements include the radical extension of healthy human life. If these enhancements become widely available, it would arguably have a more radical impact than any other development in human history — one need only reflect briefly on the economic, political, and social implications of some of the extreme enhancement possibilities. The implications for religion and the religious dimensions of human enhancement technologies are enormous and are addressed in our Unit. We are interested in encouraging and providing a forum for a broad array of diverse scholarly input. To be placed on a very occasional mailing list, contact Calvin Mercer, East Carolina University, mercerc@ecu.edu.

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers on the following topics:

● Enhancement Technology: How Can Religion Scholars Engage in Public Spaces? -
This Unit welcomes papers on any aspect of the relationship between religion and human enhancement through technology or on transhumanism. We seek perspectives from a variety of religious traditions and encourage relational, feminist, queer, postmodern, and postcolonial analyses. Original research is a priority. Papers may identify and critically evaluate any implicit religious beliefs, practices, and values that might underlie the development and use of human enhancement technologies or the key claims, goals, values, and assumptions of transhumanism. For example, papers might explore the relationship between enhancement and core doctrines or practices of religious traditions, asking how religion might challenge a culture of enhancement or how the growing use of enhancement technology might challenge or reshape the religions of the future. Papers may provide critical and constructive assessments of an envisioned future that places confidence in nanotechnology, cognitive science, moral bio-enhancements, genetics, robotics, and information technology to achieve enhanced human capacities or extend the human lifespan.

● Co-sponsored session with the Lesbian-Feminisms and Religion Unit -
If the future is female, what needs to change in technology aimed at human enhancement and transhumanism? What might a lesbian-feminist, crip, people of color focused technology look like? The Lesbian-Feminisms in the Study of Religion and Human Enhancement and Tranhumanism Units invite innovative proposals for the diversification of technology aimed at human enhancement and transhumanism. If the major ethical concerns in these endeavors can be attributed to a narrow demographic of developers and consumers (typically white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied, wealthy men) what are the possibilities for a more just future? We are especially interested in constructive and diverse proposals.

● 2019 Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces: A Necessary Long Term Focus in the Study of Religions - This Unit welcomes papers focused on the conference theme, particularly those that contribute constructively to the contributions of religious scholars and communities on public engagement with emerging technologies of human enhancement.

● Transhumanism: Enhancing or Escaping the Body (co-sponsored with Body and Religion Unit)

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee