Wyoming Cowboy (sculpture by Chris Navarro)

The University of Wyoming Posthuman Tour

Wyoming Cowboy (sculpture by Chris Navarro)

Laramie, Wyoming 82070, United States

Created By: N/A


Anybody who has spent time at the University of Wyoming – or even in the state of Wyoming – is likely familiar with the image of the cowboy riding a bucking horse. This figure is often referred to as “Steamboat” and has “been the symbol of the University of Wyoming since the early 1900s”, according to UW’s website.

So, what does Steamboat have to do with the posthuman? The image of the cowboy may seem like the opposite of the posthuman, which is often discussed in the context of advanced technology. However, one of the main tenets of posthuman thought is that we have always been posthuman because we have always extended our capabilities through the use of tools, even before computers, smart phones, and high-tech prosthetic limbs.

Steamboat is a perfect example of this. The cowboy is a historical figure almost always associated with his horse, to the point where the two are nearly inseparable. The horse is depicted as an extension of the man, as important to the cowboy identity as the man himself. Simply put, there would be no cowboy if there was no horse. In this way, the cowboy is something of a prototype of the cyborg. Instead of a human enhanced with cybernetics, the cowboy is a human enhanced by his or her use of another living creature.

Steamboat shows how “human” identity is often inherently based on our ability to manipulate external objects, living or otherwise. We were always posthuman, always reaching beyond our own bodies, relying on the outside to establish our own identities.

For more information about Steamboat, visit: http://www.uwyo.edu/foundation/gateway-center/exhibits-displays/history-of-steamboat/index.html

For images of Wyoming Cowboy’s construction, visit: http://www.uwyo.edu/foundation/gateway-center/media-gallery/sculptures-artwork/index.html

This point of interest is part of the tour: The University of Wyoming Posthuman Tour


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