Is a posthumanist Bildung possible? Reclaiming the promise of Bildung for contemporary higher education

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My central argument in this article is that the notion of Bildung may offer conceptual sustenance to those who wish to develop educative practices to supplement or contest the prevalence and privileging of market and economic imperatives in higher education, which configure teaching and learning as an object available to measurement. I pursue this argument by making the case for an ethical posthuman Bildung which recognises the inseparability of knowing and being, the materiality of educative relations, and the need to install an ecology of ethical relations at the centre of educational practice in higher education. Such a re-conceptualisation situates Bildung not purely as an individual goal but as a process of ecologies and relationships. The article explores Bildung as a flexible concept, via three theoretical lenses, and notes that it has always been subject to continuing revision in response to changing social and educational contexts. In proposing the possibility of, and need for, a posthuman Bildung, the articles offer a critical review of the promise of Bildung and outline some of the radical ways that a posthuman Bildung might reinvigorate conceptualisations of contemporary higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-435
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education
Issue number3
Early online date23 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2017


  • Bildung
  • Ecology
  • Ethics
  • Higher education
  • Posthumanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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