The Violence of the Anthropos

A Decolonial Disanthropocentric Reading of Nonhuman Agency in Literary Texts

  • Asma Mansoor Department of English, International Islamic University Islamabad


My article investigates the decolonising potential of disanthropocentrism in Paolo Bacigalupi’s novel The Windup Girl. It foregrounds the idea that anthropocentric violence entails alienating and silencing the nonhuman, an act in which many literary texts have also been complicit. Utilising ideas provided by Donna Haraway, Walter Mignolo, Bruno Latour and Karen Barad etc., my paper deconstructs the concept of the anthropos by focalising the re-‘configurations’ of the material syntax of the world and their semiotic potential. In challenging the essentialised notion of the anthropos, I argue that the semiotic agentic materiality of nonhuman phenomena does not only resist biocolonialism, it also re-thinks the human and nonhuman as storied bodies that illustrate a non-hierarchical being-in-the-world in terms
of material existence. In this context, my reading of Paolo Bacigalupi’s novel The Windup Girl presents the decolonising potential of the material-semiotic agency of nonhuman matter, as it re-‘configures’ the idea of the ‘human’ in a manner that does not reinstall anthropocentric exclusivity but initiates a reorientation of the praxis of living wherein humans and nonhumans collectively formulate a non-hierarchical communal aggregate.

Keywords: Anthropocentrism, nonhuman agency, matter, semiotic agency