Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene just out


My new book, Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene, has just been published by Open Humanities Press.

The online and pdf versions of the book are available for free:
Also available in paperback

About the book

by Joanna Zylinska

Open Humanities Press, 2014
An imprint of Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library: Ann Arbor
Series: Critical Climate Change edited by Tom Cohen and Claire Colebrook 

Life typically becomes an object of reflection when it is seen to be under threat. In particular, humans have a tendency to engage in thinking about life (instead of just continuing to live it) when being confronted with the prospect of death: be it the death of individuals due to illness, accident or old age; the death of whole ethnic or national groups in wars and other forms of armed conflict; but also of whole populations, be they human or nonhuman.

Even though Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene is first and foremost concerned with life—understood as both a biological and social phenomenon—it is the narrative about the impending death of the human population (i.e., about the extinction of the human species), that provides a context for its argument. “Anthropocene” names a geo-historical period in which humans are said to have become the biggest threat to life on earth. However, rather than as a scientific descriptor, the term serves here primarily as an ethical injunction to think critically about human and nonhuman agency in the universe.

Restrained in tone yet ambitious in scope, the book takes some steps towards outlining a minimal ethics thought on a universal scale. The task of such minimal ethics is to consider how humans can assume responsibility for various occurrences in the universe, across different scales, and how they can respond to the tangled mesh of connections and relations unfolding in it. Its goal is not so much to tell us how to live but rather to allow us to rethink “life” and what we can do with it, in whatever time we have left. The book embraces a speculative mode of thinking that is more akin to the artist’s method; it also includes a photographic project by the author.

 A spirited, eloquent, original, and interdisciplinary manifesto for ethics, which takes seriously, on the one hand, a non-anthropocentric perspective and the challenge to human exceptionalism; and, on the other hand, the possibility of the extinction of life in the Anthropocene epoch. The book presents a serious meditation on the meaning of the old ethical preoccupation – “how to live a good life?” – in an age when life itself is threatened with extinction. (Ewa Ziarek - Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature, University at Buffalo)



CFP: Drone Culture


As Above, So Below: Drone Culture

Special issue of Culture Machine, Vol.16 (2015)

Edited by Rob Coley and Dean Lockwood (University of Lincoln, UK)

The colloquium, ‘As Above, So Below’, held at the University of Lincoln in May 2014, proved the topic of drone culture to be a productive and resonant point of access for discussions of novel forms of life, power, and social and cultural logics in the twenty-first century. The 2015 special issue of the peerreviewed open access journal, Culture Machine, will combine papers commissioned from selected speakers at the colloquium together with new contributions. We are particularly keen to gather international perspectives.

The implications of the drone are still unfolding, however its valence as, in Benjamin Noys’s words, the ‘signature device of the present moment’ is indisputable. Certain discourses, practices and lines of investigation are already established. As Noys notes, above all, a certain theological and metaphysical
attitude to the drone – a myth of the drone, foregrounding its ‘God-like’ powers of search and destroy, troubling in its militaristic techno-fetishism – has come to dominate discussion, with interlocutors either wishing to celebrate or critique and demystify such claims for drone power.

What is at stake in our ‘desire for the drone’? How might we engage with such refrains in the interests of resistance? What transformative energies does the phenomenon of the drone exert upon philosophy, media, aesthetics, social and cultural theory, literature and history and how might these disciplines, in and across and between themselves, direct their own energies back upon the drone?

We are familiar with some of the more recognizable manifestations of the drone, a list which includes the diffusion of the conventional battlefield, the supposed precision of surgical strikes, and the peculiarities of such a ‘remote’ system of seeing and killing from thousands of miles away. These are the activities of a power that remains largely invisible, for political as much as technical reasons. There is, then, a certain paradox to drone culture: the drone communicates something that must not be communicated. The drone is redacted: hidden in plain sight, present but opaque. Accordingly, though we can describe a culture in which the drone, and the consequences of the drone, are normalized, are integral to an increasingly dominant logic of power, the task of expressing this culture in its material, experiential terms proves to be more difficult. How do we engage with a phenomenon that is simultaneously invisible and utterly visible? How do we map the middleness of this experience?

We invite contributions on such topics as:
– Drone metaphysics
– Drone fiction
– Drone sorcery, magic and glamour
– Occultural theory
– De-Westernizing drone rhetoric and discourse
– Drone temporalities: speed and accelerationism
– Vectoral power: mediation and middleness
– Thanatopolitics

Please submit your contributions including contact details to Rob Coley
( and Dean Lockwood (

The deadline for submission of articles of 5000-7000 words is 19th December
If you wish to discuss potential contributions ahead of submitting
completed articles, please feel free to contact the editors.

Culture Machine’s Guidelines for Authors:


Biomediaciones video

A new video interview with me from last year's Biomediations festival in Mexico has just been posted. It offers a general overview of the key themes from the festival (in Spanish) and features Paul Vanouse's beautiful project Ocular Revision in the background.


Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology

A new issue of Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, edited by Aristea Fotoupolou, Kate O’Riordan, and Alexandra Juhasz, has just been published, on the topic of 'Queer Feminist Media Praxis'. It features some really interesting, theory- and practice-based pieces, that address the following two questions: How can we understand the interconnections between radical art practices and cyberfeminisms? What role do science and technology play in shaping social practices and cultural identities?

I am very pleased to have a practice piece called 'iEarth' included in the issue. Here is an image from the piece:




The Human/Post-human in Bioethics

This is a talk from my recent visit to the School of Arts and Humanities, its Graduate Programme and the Research Group ‘Art Theories and Contemporary Media’, Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Mexico, in April 2014. It develops further some of the ideas raised in my book, Bioethics in the Age of New Media, and my article, 'Bioethics Otherwise, or, How to Live with Machines, Humans, and Other Animals'.

Conferencia Dra. Joanna Zylinska UDLAP from GI Más allá del texto UDLAP on Vimeo.