Posthuman agency in the digitally mediated city: exteriorisation, individuation, reinvention

Rose, Gillian (2017). Posthuman agency in the digitally mediated city: exteriorisation, individuation, reinvention. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 107(4) pp. 779–793.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2016.1270195

Abstract

Accounts by geographers of the ways in which urban spaces are digitally mediated have proliferated in the last few years. This significant body of work pays particular attention to the production of urban space by software and digital hardware, and geographers have drawn on various kinds of posthumanist philosophies in order to theorise the agency of the technological nonhuman. The agency of the human, however, has been left undertheorised in this work, often appearing in the form of excessive resistance to the agency granted to the digital. This article contributes to understanding the digital mediation of cities by theorising a specifically posthuman agency: that is, a human agency both mediated through technics and diverse. Drawing on the philosophy of Bernard Stiegler as well as a range of feminist digital scholarship, the article conceptualises posthuman agency as always already co-constituted with technologies. Posthumans are simultaneously individuated and exteriorised in that co-constitution, and this permits agency understood as reinvention. The article also insists that such sociotechnical agency is differentiated, particularly in terms of the spatialities and temporalities through which it is organised. It concludes by arguing that geographers must reconfigure their understanding of digitally mediated cities and acknowledge the inventiveness and diversity of urban posthuman agency.

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