“A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.”

Haraway, Donna J. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. 1st ed. New York: Routledge, 1991. 149–182. Print.

In Haraway’s own words, “This chapter is an effort to build an ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism.” She defines a cyborg as “a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, or most important political construction, a world-changing fiction.” Haraway’s commitment to postmodernism is evident when she says, “This chapter is an argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and responsibility in their construction.” In true postmodern fashion, she celebrates fragmentation (as Peter Barry would say in Beginning Theory).

“One important route for reconstructing socialist-feminist politics is through theory and practice addressed to the social relations of science and technology, including crucially the systems of myth and meanings structuring our imaginations, The cyborg is a kind of disassembled and reasembled, mostmodern collective and personal self. This is the self feminists must code.” Here the body (materiality) and construction (abstraction) weave in and out of each other.

From Wikipedia:

“Cyborg theory was created by Donna Haraway in order to criticize traditional notions of feminism—particularly its strong emphasis on identity, rather than affinity. She uses the metaphor of a cyborg in order to construct a feminism that moves beyond dualisms and moves beyond the limitations of traditional gender, feminism, and politics.[1] Marisa Olson’s take on Haraway’s thoughts is a belief that there were no separations between bodies and objects; that our life force flows through us and out into the objects we make; thus there ought to be no distinction between the so-called real or natural organisms that nature produces and the artificial machines that humans make. Haraway’s conclusion: We are all cyborgs.[2]

From the article Cyborgs:

Cyborgs not only disrupt orderly power structures and fixed interests but also signify a challenge to settled politics, which assumes that binary oppositions or identities are natural distinctions. Actually those oppositions are cultural constructions. Haraway underlines the critical function of the cyborg concept, especially for feminist politics. The current dualistic thinking involves a “logic of dominance” because the parts of the dualisms are not equivalent. Thus, the logic produces hierarchies that legitimize men dominating women, whites dominating blacks, and humans dominating animals. Instead, Haraway suggests that people should undermine these hierarchies by actively exploring and mobilizing the blurring of borders.[3]

Donna Haraway’s cyborg is an attempt to break away from Oedipal narratives and Christian origin doctrines like Genesis; the concept of the cyborg is a rejection of rigid boundaries, notably those separating “human” from “animal” and “human” from “machine.” In the Cyborg Manifesto, she writes: “The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust.”

Haraway’s cyborg called for a non-essentialized, material-semiotic metaphor capable of uniting diffuse political coalitions along the lines of affinity rather than identity. Following Lacanian feminists such as Luce Irigaray, Haraway’s work addresses the chasm between feminist discourses and the dominant language of Western patriarchy. As Haraway explains, “grammar is politics by other means,” and effective politics require speaking in the language of domination. [4] To counteract the essentializing, and anachronistic, rhetoric of spiritual ecofeminists who were fighting patriarchy with modernist constructions of female-as-nature and earth goddesses, Haraway employs the cyborg to refigure feminism in cybernetic code. As she details in a chart of the paradigmatic shifts from modern to postmodern epistemology within the Manifesto, the unified human subject of has shifted to the hybridized posthuman of technoscience, from “representation” to “simulation,” “bourgeois novel” to “science fiction,” “reproduction” to “replication,” and “white capitalist patriarchy” to “informatics of domination.” [5] While Haraway’s “ironic dream of a common language” is inspired by Irigaray’s argument for a discourse other than patriarchy, she rejects Irigaray’s essentializing construction of woman-as-not-male to argue for a linguistic community of situated, partial knowledges in which no one is innocent.”

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