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  A critique of humanism that seeks to displace \'the human subject\' from its central place within conventional projects of interpretation and understanding by raising questions about consciousness, the constitution of subjectivity and the production of agency. \'Anti-humanism\' is an umbrella term for a series of often radically different positions, but in philosophical terms all of them object to the twin humanist assumptions that valid knowledge has to be organized around the intellectual capacities of the rational subject (a subject-centred epistemology) and that social life is the product of creative and conscious human agency (a subject-constituted history). Two politico-intellectual movements have been particularly prominent in the critique of these assumptions and in the formation of what is sometimes called \'theoretical anti-humanism\': structuralism and post-structuralism. Drawing from each of these movements, more substantive objections have been registered to humanism. In particular, \'the rational subject\' around which humanism revolves is not the product of a pure and abstract logic, its critics argue, but of a fractious history (or historical geography) of Reason; the figure of the human subject which lies at its heart turns out to be white, heterosexual and masculine, so that the complex ways in which the play of power and desire enter into the constitution of different subject-positions (and different capacities for action) are erased; and the privileges accorded to intentions occlude the significance of the unconscious for the production of social life. All that having been said, where these critical interventions leave authorial responsibility and political practice remains an open and urgent question. And yet, as Barrett (1991, p. 166) concluded, if the \'anti-humanist abandonment of individual agency and responsibility is ultimately no answer, it has at least effectively undermined the assumption of correctness and universal applicability in its predecessors\'.

Anti-humanism has been instrumental in the critique of humanistic geography and in the formation of a broadly conceived post-humanist geography. This is a heterogeneous body of work that draws on a wide range of overlapping and contending ideas; consistent with the \'theoretical\' sensibilities of anti-humanism, the most important sources have been feminist theory, post-colonial theory, post-structuralism, psychoanalytic theory and queer theory. Perhaps the most innovative contributions of post-humanist geography to date lie in the exploration of the connections between the production of subjectivities and the production of spatialities (see, for example, Pile and Thrift, 1995). (See also masculinism; phallocentrism.) (DG)

References Barrett, M. 1991: The politics of truth: from Marx to Foucault. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Pile, S. and Thrift, N.J., eds, 1995: Mapping the subject: geographies of cultural transformation. London and New York: Routledge.

Suggested Reading Soper, K. 1986: Humanism and anti-humanism. London: Hutchinson.



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