“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: Religious transhumanisms and transhumanisms in relation to: global South perspectives, surveillance technologies, ethnographic and anthropological methods, climate change, animal liberation.
Additionally, we welcome proposals for papers or panels on the following topics:
Disability and Impairment: Politicizing and weaponizing of disability, H+ and ableism, Therapy vs. Enhancement
Reproduction and Reproductive Technologies: Control of human reproduction and esp. women’s rights, Transgenics and xenotransplantation, Reviving extinct species
The Cyborg: Contemporary reflection on the figure of the cyborg, Critique of past articulations of the cyborg
Transhumanism and ritual in communities such as biohacking subcultures; Transhumanism, exercise and dieting; Commodification of human data and persons, including bioprospecting; Revisiting the various goals and trajectories of trans- and posthumanism
We are seeking papers or a proposed panel looking at the intersection of data justice and healthcare in religious communities or perspectives.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Jacob Boss, Indiana University, Bloomington1/1/2020 - 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 University1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
Seth Villegas, Boston University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025