In quest of a new humanism: Embodiment, experience and phenomenology as critical geography

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During the last 20 years anti-humanist and posthumanist thinking have gained a strong foothold in human geography. This development has indisputable benefits regarding our understanding of the power-knowledge complex, representation and ‘new materialisms’, respectively, but it has also had a troubled relationship to the comprehension of lived experience, notions of agency and politics. This paper aims to explore how a practice-oriented re-reading of phenomenology can contribute to a ‘new humanism’ after anti-/posthumanism. The paper starts from a research study on ‘The Stranger, the city and the nation’, which I have recently completed with my colleague Lasse Koefoed. The purpose is to embed the subsequent philosophical discussions in their consequences for the empirical analysis of social life. The re-reading of phenomenology revolves around three issues: thinking the body as a phenomenal, lived body; orientation and disorientation in the directions and possibilities of social life; and the phenomenological travel along the anti-/posthumanist lane. The paper concludes with a suggestion of a ‘new humanism’ that avoids the rationalist and self-righteous claims of the old ones but maintains elements of the experiential dimension of social life, the acknowledgement of the other and the significance of human agency.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)10-26
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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