Before Humanity

Posthumanism and Ancestrality


Before Humanity takes up the question of the post- in the posthuman from the position of ancestrality. Speculating about who or what comes after the human inevitably throws us back to our very beginnings. The before in Before Humanity in this context takes on two meanings: 1) what happened before we apparently became human? – which translates into a critical reading of paleo-anthropology, as well as evolutionary narratives of hominization; 2) living through the end of a certain (humanist, anthropocentric) notion of humanity, what tasks lie before us? – which provokes a critical reading of the Anthropocene and current narratives of geologization.
In other words, Before Humanity investigates conceptualizations of humanity and asks whether we have ever been human and if not, what could, or maybe what should we have been?

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Stefan Herbrechter was a Reader in Cultural Theory at Coventry University and Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Heidelberg University. He has published widely on literature, culture and media. His Posthumanism – A Critical Analysis (2013 [2009]) is one of the founding texts of critical posthumanism. For more information see and

Introduction: Before …

1The Other Human On William Golding’s The Inheritors
 1 Prehistoric Fiction and Ancestrality

 2 The Inheritors: Morality, Ideology, Humanism

 3 Paleontology and the Neanderthal

 4 Language, Cognition and ‘Becoming Human’

 5 Animism and Empathy

 6 Becoming Human?

interlude 1Languages and Evolutions

interlude 2Animism without Humans, or Belief without Belief
 1 ‘Believing’ in Animism

 2 Alter-Anthropological Animism (or a-a-a)

 3 Posthumanist Animism?

 4 Techno-Animism and the Re-Enchantment of Science

 5 Animism Under Erasure

 6 The Animism to Come

 7 Seriously, But Perhaps Not Too Seriously?

interlude 3Ape/Man

2About to Forget … the Human On Max Frisch’s Man in the Holocene
 1 Herr Geiser Is Losing His Humanity …

 2 Catastrophe, Ecocide and Extinction in Man in the Holocene

 3 Forgetting and Geiser’s Mnemotechnics

 4 Verzettelung

 5 Pre- and Posthistory, Geology and Ancestrality

 6 Before Humanity: Dementia and Ecography

interlude 4Geology and Deep Time

interlude 5Lascaux, Geophilia and the ‘Cradle of Humanity’
 1 Bataille – The Neolithic ‘Origin’ of Art and Humanity

 2 Baudrillard – Lascaux and Simulation

 3 Inhumanist Aesthetic?

3Unsociable Robots Empathy in Robot & Frank
 1 Empathy Makes ‘us’ Human?

 2 Robot & Frank

 3 Empathy and Sociable Robots

 4 Posthuman(ist) Empathy?

Conclusion Becoming Inhuman
 1 So You Think You’re Becoming Human?

 2 Post/Anthropology – Before and After Humans

 3 Inhumanism, or, Becoming Inhuman



Before Humanity will appeal to students and academics in the fields of literature, media, film and cultural studies and those who have a general interest in posthumanism, postanthropocentrism and its prehistories.
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