Publication details for Dr Elizabeth JohnsonJohnson, Elizabeth R. At the Limits of Species Being: Sensing the Anthropocene. South Atlantic Quarterly. 2017;116:275-292.
- Publication type: Journal Article
- ISSN/ISBN: 0038-2876 (print), 1527-8026 (electronic)
- DOI: 10.1215/00382876-3829401
- Further publication details on publisher web site
- Durham Research Online (DRO) - may include full text
Author(s) from Durham
Autonomous Marxism has generated a lexicon for responding to transformations in human labor, particularly around the role of technological development. Autonomists have mapped how the conditions of post-Fordism have put elements of the mind, sociability, virtuosity—or “the soul” in Franco Berardi's terms—to work. But that labor, in accordance with capitalist valorization, is nearly always human. At best, it is human labor supplemented with machines. But what are we to make of the lively materials—of human and nonhuman provenance alike—now at “work” alongside us? This essay takes up this question in an analysis of the field of biosensing. It explores Marx's concepts of species being and the general intellect to reconsider what can be said of “living labor” and its potential at a time when nonhuman life is increasingly a central component of production. It suggests that alongside the so-called Anthropocene, biosensing marks a redistribution of both the work and the precarity associated with our mode of production. While the field forges engagements with nonhuman others and a growing awareness of planetary life, it also operates according to an imaginary of planetary management, the possibility of producing for a collective health and the “whole of nature.”