I, posthuman: A deliberately provocative title

Wilde, Poppy (2020) I, posthuman: A deliberately provocative title. International Review of Qualitative Research. ISSN 1940-8447

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In this paper, I explore the use of posthumanism as a theoretical framework for autoethnography, and show the methodological tensions of combining these approaches. A posthuman subjectivity rejects notions of the liberal human subject and anthropocentrism by recognising the entanglement of humanity. Acknowledging a posthuman subjectivity means taking account of our constantly intra-connected and transient relationship with our environment and others within it, both human and non-human (e.g. Braidotti, 2013). On the other hand, authoethnographic approaches to research propose self-reflection and personal experience as the basis on which new theoretical insight can be gained. From a critical perspective, “[t]he very idea of autobiography relies on a subject (or a narrator) who is capable of remembering, interpreting and identifying with his or her life story” (Herbrechter, 2012, p.331). Using a posthumanist framework through autoethnographic research means that the “I” is precarious at best; so how and why can we utilise it to explore such a phenomenon as the posthuman? This paper argues that such tensions provide insights into the formation of subjectivity, where “I” is both fallacy and necessity. It explores this methodological tension through an 18-month autoethnographic project that explores my own experiences of gameplay in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft (WoW). Using fieldnotes collected during this period, I discuss what a posthuman perspective can bring to an account of my relationship with my avatar, Etyme.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/1940844720939853
14 August 2019Accepted
29 July 2020Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Posthumanism, posthuman, methodology, autoethnography, cyber, MMORPG, avatar, gamer
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Media and English > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Poppy Wilde
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 11:32
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:59
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8309

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