Call for Abstracts (Issue 2)

The Nonhuman: Concepts, Concerns, and Challenges in the Study of Culture

(Download: PDF)

The second issue of On_Culture focusses on scholarship that draws attention to matter,
networks, affect, objects, and media to show how nonhuman entities act and shape our
world. [1] Making such entities visible enables better engagement with contemporary matters and 21st century problems such as global climate change, the collapse of financial markets, and nonhuman internet traffic.

Turning towards the nonhuman in the study of culture, however, is not just about
contemporary subject matters. Rather, it is about politics, knowledge, and embodied
experience both in the present and throughout history. A nonhuman turn in the study of
culture can also just as well be described as a re/turn of the nonhuman, as research on the
cultural and social relations of human and nonhuman actors can be traced to a variety of
different intellectual and theoretical developments moving back through the 20th century and
well before it. Approaches to the nonhuman have included such diverse fields as actornetwork
theory, affect theory, animal studies, assemblage theory, new media theory, new
materialism, speculative and object-oriented realism and systems theory.

While this second issue of On_Culture acknowledges the discourse on a posthuman turn, the
nonhuman is a distinct concept that differs from posthumanism in important ways. While the
nonhuman also aims to widen analytical perspectives to include other natural, cultural, and
social actors than humans, it does not claim a historic shift from humanism to posthumanism
but rather advocates research that takes the various complex relations of humans and
nonhumans in contemporary as well as historical cultural and social formations into account.

On_Culture invites researchers from all fields in the humanities, social sciences, and other
areas of the study of culture to submit abstracts pertaining to research on the implications of
the nonhuman for the study of culture. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Concepts and theoretical frameworks pertaining to the nonhuman within specific
    fields such as material culture studies, ecological humanities, history, sociology, and
  • The effects of considering the nonhuman in analyses and interpretations of literary
    texts – how can literary forms and functions be read as responses to new nonhuman
    constituents of contemporary life, such as the internet, smart phones, and networking
  • The way in which attention to the nonhuman affects empirical research processes;
  • The production of nonhuman vitality, particularly in delineation of several concepts of
    human agency (within a historical framework);
  • Distinction and relevance between ‘analog’ and/or ‘digital’ nonhumans, e.g. in terms
    of pseudo-vital and media forms of emergence;
  • Approaches to an idea of an ecology of things; explorations within material culture
    debates under the umbrella of nonhumanity;
  • Theorizations and Analyses of the complex animal-human-relationship within the
    broader conceptual framework of the nonhuman;
  • Representations and Reinterpretations of nonhuman agencies, aesthetics, and

On_Culture is an electronic platform geared toward all researchers interested in the study of
culture. For an overview of the research areas that reflect new approaches and emerging
topics in the study of culture: <>.

If you are interested in having a peer reviewed academic article featured in the second issue,
please submit an abstract of 200 words with the article title and a short biographical note to no later than 31 March 2016 with the subject line “Abstract
Submission.” You will be notified by 15 April 2016 whether your paper proposal has been
accepted. The deadline for submitting the final paper is 15 July 2016.

Please note:
On_Culture also features a section devoted to shorter, creative pieces pertaining
to each issue topic. These can be interviews, essays, opinion pieces, reviews of exhibitions,
analyses of cultural artifacts and events, photo galleries, videos, works of art…and more!
These contributions are uploaded on a rolling basis. Interested in contributing? Send your
ideas to the Editorial Board at any time:


  • [1] This call for paper carries on the concept of an international conference held at the GCSC (Giessen, 27-28 May, 2013): “The Re/turn of the Nonhuman in the Study of Culture: Concepts – Concerns – Challenges”.