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The residual humanism of hybridity: retaining a sense of the earth

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The concept of hybridity has become an influential theoretical tool for examining and reconsidering relations between society and nature. Although benefits have accrued from this school of thought, this paper contends the deployment of hybridity within the geographic discipline falls short of its reconstitutional claims. These shortcomings are a consequence of the original sources used to develop the language and logic of hybridity. Although the concept of hybridity has a long history in the biological sciences, the utilisation of hybridity in the geographic discipline has predominantly relied upon evolving theories developed in science and technology studies. This paper indicates how Haraway’s cyborg and Latour’s Middle Kingdom limit the scope of hybridity by portraying humanity as central to hybridity. The pervasive centrality of humans within the literature on hybridity (1) limits the ability of geographers to embrace poststructuralism in its entirety and (2) diminishes the discipline’s claim to credibly represent the (natural) landscape. This paper argues for a thicker hybridity by borrowing from emergent theories in the biological sciences, wherein hybridity is conceived as a common occurrence that frequently takes place outside the direct purview of society. Rather than reifying nature, thick hybridity forces society to embrace environmental uncertainty more than it has heretofore.
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Keywords: actor-network theory; animals; cyborg; humanism; hybridity; nature

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2009

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