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  • Writer's pictureCálice Magazine

Beyond Human: Posthumanism and Ontopolitics with Petra Ragnerstam

This is the first episode of our podcast series Beyond Human in which we explore posthumanism and ontopolitics by applying these two theoretical approaches to examples from literature, film and video games.

Petra Ragnerstam holds a PhD in English Studies and teaches as a senior lecturer at Malmö University. Among her courses is Representation of Power – as part of the Culture & Change Master’s programme – which extensively engages with posthumanist and ontopolitical perspectives. Her research focuses on literature and other forms of storytelling, including larps (live action role playing).


While humanism places the human and human rights at the center of its thought, posthumanism questions the boundary between human and non-human, as well as the universalism claimed by religion or Western science. Instead, it advocates for multiplicity and finding alternatives through experimental ways of mobilization and discussion rooted in the recognition that we as individual humans are part of a species.


Ontopolitics is a compound word combining ontology (that which we know) and politics. Central to this theory is the suggestion that the world, rather than being fixed and stable, is a process. Rather than being merely represented or interpreted, the reality – or realities – we live are continuously re- and co-create by human as well as other-than-human agents. This raises a number of questions: Who is involved in worlding practices? Who has the right to world our reality/-ies? How do we negotiate existence in this context? Which world should we try to create?

References and further reading

  • Althusser, Louis (1970) ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’, in Szeman, Imre & Timothy Kaposy (eds.) Cultural Theory: An Anthology, Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Blaser, Mario (2013) ‘Ontological Conflicts and the Stories of Peoples in Spite of Europe: Toward a Conversation of Political Ontology’, Current Anthropology, 54(5), pp. 547-568.

  • Braidotti, Rosi (2009) Posthuman Knowledge, Cambridge: Polity Press.

  • Butler, Judith (2009) Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?, Verso.

  • Carver, Raymond (1988) ‘Elephant’, in Elephant and Other Stories, Vintage.

  • Carver, Raymond (1981) ‘So Much Water So Close to Home’, in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Knopf.

  • Chandler, David & Julian Reid (2018) '"Being in Being": Contesting the Ontopolitics of Indigeneity', The European Legacy, 23(3), pp. 251-268.

  • Kimmerer, Robin Wall (2013) Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions.

  • Law, John (2004) After method: mess in social science research, Routledge.

  • Martel, Yann (2001) Life of Pi, Mariner Books.

  • Mol, Annemarie (1999) ‘Ontological politics. A word and some questions’, Sociological Review, 47(1), pp. 74-89.

  • Savransky, Martin (2012) ‘Worlds in the making: social sciences and the ontopolitics of knowledge’, Postcolonial Studies, 15(3), pp. 351-368.

Music Credits

Intro music by sfxvalley.

Cover art by Amr Abbas.

You can find this and other Dextercast episodes on spotify.


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