Composting Humboldt: a reconceptualisation of Wilhelm von Humboldt's Bildung understood through Donna Haraway's 'compostist' posthumanism

Louis Waterman-Evans* (Corresponding Author), Education in the North

*Corresponding author for this work

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This conceptual research aims to reconfigure Wilhelm von Humboldt’s Bildung considering Donna Haraway’s ‘compostist’ posthumanism. Three aspects of Humboldt’s Bildung are identified and analysed: individuality, unity of nature and mind, and holistic knowledge. Posthumanism is narrowed to Haraway’s ‘compostist’ conception, with the identified aspects: making kin as ‘oddkin’ and recognising Indigenous Knowledges. The main conceptual argument draws on these analyses to recast Humboldt’s Bildung in the following ways: 1) individuality is understood in terms of ecological relationality; 2) the human mind and ‘nature’ ‘become-with’ one another in more dynamic interplay; and 3) holistic knowledge is revised to incorporate knowledges beyond ’Western’ epistemologies. The paper aspires to open up a new horizon for Humboldt’s Bildung, understood through Haraway’s ‘compostist’ posthumanism. The resulting ‘compostist’ posthumanist Bildung has the potential to shape our formation to be compatible with living on a damaged planet and to lay the preliminary conceptual groundwork for addressing some of our times’ most complex questions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-25
Number of pages21
JournalEducation in the North
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

This paper is based on my master’s dissertation. As such, I am indebted to the comments, constructive criticism, and continual encouragement of my supervisor, Karsten Kenklies. I am also grateful for the suggestions of my second marker, Katja Frimberger.


  • Bildung
  • Wilhelm von Humboldt
  • posthumanism
  • Donna Haraway
  • indigenous knowledges


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