(Un-) Making the Human
Explorations of an Embattled Category in the Austrian Context
The limits and boundaries of human subjectivity have been interrogated, explored, redefined, and challenged throughout history. The question of what it means and takes to be human is inextricably linked to negotiations of individual freedom, ethical responsibility and care, as well as to structures of power, violence, and oppression. While debates about the ‘human condition’, often tied to explorations of binary taxonomies such as nature-culture or mind-body, have long been at the centre of philosophical inquiry, the last decades have seen a growing awareness of the destructive effects of human exceptionalism and anthropocentrism. At the same time, the theoretical concept of the ‘Anthropocene’, describing the ongoing era in which human activities started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems, necessarily retains the notion of human agency and responsibility. Moreover, it has been highlighted that the environmental crisis must be considered in its relation to social inequality, as well as to racial, colonial, and patriarchal forms of domination.
For our annual Journal of Austrian Studies Graduate Student Essay Prize 2022, we invite submissions that critically examine how the definitory lines around the category ‘human’ were drawn, redrawn, and blurred in Austrian history, literature, and culture. How have events and attitudes in Austrian history influenced violent discourses and practices of dehumanization, and how have they shaped definitions of humanness? How have Austrian artists, writers, and thinkers contributed to the conceptualization or deconstruction of humanness? In what ways can scholarship on Austrian history, literature, and culture offer insights for urgent current debates around the blurred lines between human and natural history, human and non-human animals, or between human and technology? Does archival research in the Austrian context offer region- and/or culture-specific insights on the interrelations between ecological and social change?
We welcome submissions from Austrian history, literary and cultural studies, which can be informed by a wide range of thematic, theoretic, and methodological approaches, such as (but not limited to) environmental history, animal studies, ecocriticism, (eco-)feminism, decolonial ecology, queer theory, critical race theory, post-humanist materialism, or thing theory.
Graduate students and those who have received their Ph.D. no earlier than 2020 and who do not currently hold a tenure-track or permanent faculty position are invited to submit an essay for consideration. Essays should be 6000-8000 words and follow the journal’s submission guidelines, which are available here. Entries should not be simultaneously submitted to or under consideration for publication in another venue. Submissions will be judged by the ASA Prize Committee and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than December 15th, 2022. Please include an abstract, as well as a brief author’s bio and a CV. The author of the winning essay will have the opportunity to work with a team of expert reviewers to prepare the manuscript for publication in the journal in 2023. They also will receive a free 12-month-membership to ASA (which includes a subscription to JAS), as well as a $250 cash award.
The ASA DEI committee has compiled a list of suggestions for inclusive language. Applicants are invited to refer to this resource for guidance.
Prize Committee 2022
Marie Kolkenbrock (chair), Michael Burri, Nikhil Sathe, and Heidi Schlipphacke