Agency in Posthuman IR: Solving the Problem of Technosocially Mediated Agency
chapterposted on 07.05.2015, 10:18 by Michael Schandorf, Athina Karatzogianni
We offer an approach to agency in posthumanism in three parts. The first relies on Deleuze and Guattari (1987), DeLanda (2006; 2011) and Burke (1969a; 1969b; 2003) to discuss the concepts of agency, actors, and assemblage. In doing so, we wish to demarcate what continues to distinguish human agency from other forms while rejecting ‘immaterial’ ontological grounds and conventional idealistic and dualistic notions of intentionality. This requires an emphasis on DeLanda’s contention that the assemblage as an actor is not only embodied in the interaction of its material components, but also expressed by the material configuration of those components. In the second part, we differentiate between intentionality and desire. This distinction enables a further elucidation of assemblage agency and the dissection of affective structures of desire in order to better conceptualize posthuman agency in the distributed assemblages of the contemporary technosocial realm. A critical distinction between motivation and intention then points towards the examination of affective-discursive identifications as agencies that push motivated political agents into virtual spaces of possibilities of action toward particular sets of goals. In the final section, we use Rotman’s (2008) Person-Subject-Agent model to further support a theorization of contemporary political action, which is able to address the relationships among the motivated actor (as Person-Subject) and the intentional actor (as Subject-Agent). The technosocial distributed actor is thereby understood as a materially embodied Agent, generatively constrained by a Subject-constituting assemblage. Such an actor has intentionality but has no motivation of its own unless it can be located in a socially and symbolically identified Person.