This essay questions the perspective that distinguishes humans from objects on the grounds of ability and considers the departure from recognizable markers of humanity. Thinking through performances by Marina Abramović and through the 2006 South Korean film I'm a Cyborg, but That's OK, I explore the moments when one becomes a “quasi-object” so that one embodies the characteristics of objects, perceives one's body or body parts as objects, or suspends what are conventionally viewed as uniquely human capacities and values. I suggest that unbecoming human—by embodying objecthood, surrendering agency, and practicing powerlessness—may open up an anti-ableism, antiviolence queer ethics of proximity. An ethical positioning of proximity to humanness through unbecoming human disengages from any kind of ability-based determination of a being's legitimacy and from the appraisal of differences.
Eunjung Kim; Unbecoming Human: An Ethics of Objects. GLQ 1 June 2015; 21 (2-3): 295–320. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-2843359
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