“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, email@example.com.
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Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Unit
Call for Proposals
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.
Our Unit also welcomes proposals on:
- Religious transhumanisms
- Global South perspectives on transhumanisms
- Surveillance technologies
- Ethnographic and anthropological methods in transhumanism and religion
- Climate change, enhancement, and transhumanisms
- Animal liberation and transhumanisms
- Constructive proposals for the future of religion and technology
Co-sponsored session: Book Discussion Roundtable, Co-sponsored by Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Unit and Body and Religion Unit: We are seeking to form a book discussion roundtable on Philip Butler’s Black Transhuman Liberation Theology: Technology and Spirituality (Bloomsbury, 2021). The vision is to select 5-6 scholars to receive a copy of Butler’s book to read in advance of AAR, prepare two pages of opening observations, and then engage in a book discussion during the session that would be transcribed and an excerpt published in the journal Body and Religion, along with your prepared remarks. Instead of a paper proposal, we would like a few paragraphs on the following: Why would you like to participate in this book discussion? What is your level of expertise on body, liberation theologies, and/or topics of transhumanism? What lenses would you bring to the conversation on this book? Those selected will be contacted for an address to send a copy of the book to you by the end of April-May 2022.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Jacob Boss, Indiana University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Levi Checketts, Santa Clara University1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Melanie Dzugan, Fuller Theological Seminary1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Calvin Mercer, East Carolina University1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Tracy J. Trothen, Queen's University, Kingston1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
Seth Villegas, Boston University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025