Autopoiesis and Sympoiesis: Imagining Post-Anthropocene in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction

Xuying Yu, Riccardo Moratto

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Donna Haraway, who launched the post-human discussion with “A Cyborg Manifesto,” has recently proposed an epochal name, “Chthulucene,” to replace the notion of “Anthropocene.” Haraway suggests a slogan for the age of Chthulucene, that is, “Make Kin Not Babies!” to stress that all earthlings are kin in the deepest sense. This chapter applies the notion of Chthulucene to examine the criticism of anthropocentrism and post-Anthropocene imaginations in contemporary Chinese science fiction. By comparing pan-species communism, an ecological discourse that appears in Liu Cixin's science fiction works, with A Que's zombie stories, this chapter explores two directions of imagining a post-Anthropocene era, namely, autopoiesis and sympoiesis. Although pan-species communism in Liu's science fiction aims at ending human tyranny and achieving species equality and genetic recombination, the anti-human claims embody the human-centric perspective and a belief in autopoiesis. A Que's zombie stories not only expose the injustice, cruelty, and utilitarianism of human nature, but also picture a new civilization of sympoiesis in which collaborative relations replace binarism, and boundaries between species no longer exist. The comparison reveals the main problem of Anthropocene that is being too obsessed with competitive relations and the possibility of tentacular thinking.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcocriticism and Chinese Literature
Subtitle of host publicationImagined Landscapes and Real Lived Spaces
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781000553390
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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