Animal Agribusiness and the Pre-posthuman Condition

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  • Title: Animal Agribusiness and the Pre-posthuman Condition
  • Author(s): Steven Smith
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Posthuman, Corporate Personhood, Bioethics, Factory Farming, Technology
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2016
  • ISSN: 1447-9508 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1447-9559 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Smith, Steven. 2016. "Animal Agribusiness and the Pre-posthuman Condition." The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review 14 (1): 13-26. doi:10.18848/1447-9508/CGP/13-26.
  • Extent: 14 pages


This article examines the relationship between humans and nature by focusing on animals and bioethics, and technology’s role in this equation using the “posthuman” literary theory. While notable theorists (Donna Haraway, Cary Wolfe, and Karen Barad) have explored bioethics in a posthuman light, this research builds upon the idea that technology undermines animal rights and affects our moral species. This research begins by providing a brief history of bioethics and the introduction of technology within farming. From there, I explore the effects that technology had in the latter half of the nineteenth century, such as the use of transgenics. I then recontextualize the more “traditional” definition of posthumanism, and instead argue that the present human condition is “pre-posthuman” (material beings grounded in conscious embodiment who rely on, and are influenced through, technology), and that we seek to obtain a posthuman status. Although we are pre-posthuman, I introduce the idea that we already exist within a posthuman society, and justify this theory by examining the evolution of our moral species in regards to agricultural advancements of the twentieth century, in which (I argue) humans were negatively influenced through biotechnology (and technology). I then compare this brief history to the evolution of the corporation-becoming-man and label this being as the indefinite posthuman. Justification for existing within the posthuman society comes from the pivotal role that corporate entities play in our lives.