Disability and the Posthuman: Bodies, Technology, and Cultural Futures


Interest in the relationship between bodies and enhanced technologies has never been greater. Technological developments appear to suggest extraordinary interventions, from exoskeletons and neural implants to VR systems that creative virtual environments and explore early versions of telepresence. Much of this innovation has a clear connection with disability: assistive technologies can aid in overcoming spinal injury or provide those who are blind with access to complex city locations. The promise of this development is that the boundaries of the human can be extended if not superseded, that there is the capacity for the body to be improved and transcended. For people with disabilities this raises complex questions about what such change might mean for life experiences and whether it is accessible, affordable and even desirable.

Excitement about embodied technology has also become the material of cultural representations, with Marvel superheroes only the most visible of a variety of characters who play out stories of physical or cognitive augmentation. Disability and the Posthuman is the first study to analyse these representations and deployments of disability as they interact with posthumanist theories of technology and embodiment. The book ranges across a wide range of texts, many new to critical enquiry, in contemporary writing, film and cultural practice. It covers a diverse range of topics, including contemporary cultural theory and aesthetics, design, engineering and gender, the visualisation of prosthetic technologies in the representation of war and conflict, and depictions of work, time and sleep; and it includes studies of Science and Speculative Fiction, commercial and independent cinema and media from North America, the UK, Iraq and Japan. While noting the potential limitations of posthumanist assessments of the technologized body, the study argues that there are exciting, productive possibilities and subversive potentials in the dialogue between disability and posthumanism as they generate dissident crossings of cultural spaces. Such intersections cover both fictional/imagined and material/grounded examples of disability and look to a future in which the development of technology and complex embodiment of disability presence align to produce sustainable yet radical creative and critical voices. 


Murray, S. (2020). Disability and the Posthuman: Bodies, Technology, and Cultural Futures. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv11qdtsh

Related reading