The Theory of Autopoietic Culture: Processes and Inquiries beyond the Frame

By Scott H. Boyd.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper will briefly introduce the theory of autopoietic culture derived specifically from the writings of Chilean biologists Maturana and Varela, and discuss its implications for the humanities, including re-theorizing research to transcend disciplinary constraints and opening new branches of inquiry in the humanities. The theory of autopoietic culture articulates that culture is an autonomous and autonomic unity that is a network of processes and production of components that are continuously generated and “recursively participate through their interactions in the generation and realization of the network of process of production of components which produced them” (Maturana, “The Organization of the Living” 153). In this theory, culture is an autopoietic unity which is always in process and is brought forth by an observer in an act of distinction occurring in a consensual linguistic domain. This presentation will very broadly discuss Joseph Beuys and Gloria Anzaldua as examples of how this theory may be used to re-theorize analysis and research that focuses on fixed moments opening new areas of inquiry based on what is commonly left out of the frame. It is also possible that observation and analysis within a theory of autopoietic culture will lead to alternatives and challenges to the hegemony of current academic paradigms of inquiry in the humanities.

Keywords: Culture, Autopoiesis, Autopoietics, Cultural Theory, Humanities, Interdisciplinary, Process, Systems Theory, Joseph Beuys, Gloria Anzaldua

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.63-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 746.801KB).

Dr. Scott H. Boyd

Visiting Associate Professor, Middle East Technical University-Northern Cyprus Campus, Mersin, Turkey

Scott H. Boyd earned his Ph.D. from the School of Interdisciplinary Arts at Ohio University. He has broad research interests including theories of culture, arts, autopoiesis, ethics, and neoliberalism in education. He has published on a range of topics including the artworks of Joseph Beuys; films of Werner Herzog; Foucault’s episteme; interdisciplinarity, time, and autopoiesis; the theory of autopoietic culture; and neoliberal ideology in US higher education. He is also a creative writer, travel writer, and published poet who teaches literature and humanities at Middle East Technical University-Northern Cyprus Campus.


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