“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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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:
Global South perspectives on transhumanisms
Ethnographic and anthropological methods in transhumanism and religion
Climate change, enhancement, and transhumanisms
Animal liberation and transhumanisms
Additional constructive proposals for the future of religion and technology
Co-sponsored session: The Death, Dying and Beyond and the Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Units invite paper proposals for a cosponsored panel on the intersection and paradoxical connection between the technological advancements in regards to extending and maintaining human life and the accompanying increase in the use of technology to create space/platforms for mourning practices and expressions of grief. Are humans immortalized by and through these technologies? If so, how? How do these technologies affect the experience and expression of grief? How do these technologies affect perceptions of the afterlife or the beyond? How does transhumanism as an emerging field speak to, intersect with, affect death and dying studies? Ethics within death and dying? How has/might religious practice change to incorporate technology (e.g. especially if you exist forever within an online platform)?
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
Stephen Garner, Laidlaw College1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Tracy J. Trothen, Queen's University1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
Seth Villegas, Boston University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025