Insurrection training for post-human politics

Nold, Christian (2021). Insurrection training for post-human politics. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 41(3/4) pp. 541–557.



The purpose of this paper is to articulate an ontological anarchist approach for an engaged post-human politics and present insurrection training as a pragmatic tool for researchers to directly transform the world.

The paper analyses how post-humanism has been criticised for dissolving political agency. It shows that this is due to the way post-humanism has been framed as sensitising and including non-humans into liberal politics. Instead, the paper examines anarchist-influenced post-humanism and combines this with the notion of multiple ontologies and ontological interventions. The paper presents the notion of insurrection training as offering the possibility for researchers to become emotionally sensitised to ontological difference. A case study of the "Seeds of Hope East Timor Ploughshares action" (1996) is used to illustrate what insurrection training and ontological interventions look like in practice. Finally, the paper makes suggestions as to how post-human researchers can apply this approach in their everyday lives.

The paper suggests that beyond a liberal framing of post-humanism as inclusion, there is also an ontological anarchist post-humanism that can support transformative impacts in the world. This form of post-humanism offers specificity of intervention and reflexive training practices. Insurrection training can offer new possibilities for post-humanist researchers: experience ontological difference, de-trivialise the everyday, connect to social movements, make post-human politics "doable" and offer "direct" change.

The paper addresses discussions that claim post-humanism is disabling political change. Its contribution is to map an anarchist post-humanism and extend this with concepts of multiple ontologies. It proposes the notion of insurrection training which places attention on the role of the researcher as an active agent that needs to be sensitised to ontological difference to carry out interventions. A case study of direct action illustrates what ontological intervention and insurrection training look like in practice. The case study suggests that insurrection training is an everyday performative practice that integrates and negotiates the personal, material and political. Finally, the paper suggests how researchers can adopt such an approach in their everyday lives.

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