Beyond the Cyborg

Beyond the Cyborg: Adventures with Donna Haraway

with a “seed bag” by Donna Haraway
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Beyond the Cyborg
    Book Description:

    Feminist theorist and philosopher Donna Haraway has substantially impacted thought on science, cyberculture, the environment, animals, and social relations. This long-overdue volume explores her influence on feminist theory and philosophy, paying particular attention to her more recent work on companion species, rather than her "Manifesto for Cyborgs."

    Margret Grebowicz and Helen Merrick argue that the ongoing fascination with, and re-production of, the cyborg has overshadowed Haraway's extensive body of work in ways that run counter to her own transdisciplinary practices. Sparked by their own personal "adventures" with Haraway's work, the authors offer readings of her texts framed by a series of theoretical and political perspectives: feminist materialism, standpoint epistemology, radical democratic theory, queer theory, and even science fiction. They situate Haraway's critical storytelling and "risky reading" practices as forms of feminist methodology and recognize her passionate engagement with "naturecultures" as the theoretical core driving her work. Chapters situate Haraway as critic, theorist, biologist, feminist, historian, and humorist, exploring the full range of her identities and reflecting her commitment to embodying all of these modes simultaneously.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52073-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, General Science, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-21)

    For academics interested in contemporary feminist theory and cultural studies, Donna Haraway is a key figure and one of the more original and challenging theorists of the twenty-first century. Her standing in feminist science studies and cybercultural studies in particular is attested to by the continual reprinting of her work in anthologies on bodies, technologies, and knowledges. Much of her reputation flows from that iconic and well-traveled text, the “Manifesto for Cyborgs,” written over twenty-five years ago.

    There exists, however, a striking disparity between Haraway’s reputation and her standing as a contemporary theorist, seen most obviously in the surprising lack...

    (pp. 22-47)

    In her essay “A Game of Cat’s Cradle,” Haraway claims that “queering what counts as nature is my categorical imperative” (1994:60). In this chapter we take Haraway at her word and read queering nature as the central impulse (and sometimes consequence) of all Haraway’s troping, figurations, and stories. We sketch one possible genealogy of Haraway’s engagements with what has come to count as nature and the ways in which her endeavours encounter, transmute, and overturn the myriad intellectual trajectories and disciplines she traverses. This will not have been the only such genealogy, and certainly not a definitive or conclusive one,...

    (pp. 48-76)

    Standpoint theory, perhaps most famously formulated by Nancy Hartsock and Sandra Harding, is hardly a unified set of positions today. What, exactly, is meant by “standpoint,” “location,” and “situatedness” in reference to knowledge? Is standpoint theory a feminist political position or an epistemological innovation? Should it be used to describe the conditions of knowledge production or to formulate normative criteria for justification of knowledge claims? We will not attempt to position ourselves among these questions, but take as our starting point instead an interview in which Haraway addresses standpoint feminism in general terms, from afar. She acknowledges the movement’s important...

    (pp. 77-94)

    To trouble democracy is to trouble the human. The democratic model is grounded in humanism and thus excludes the animal, however “animal” is imagined and defined, in a more fundamental way than it excludes other “others.” Nonhuman animals do not simply broaden the spectrum of possible others, defined in negative relation to the straight, white male legal norm which democracy serves most efficiently, but they threaten legal norms in a more fundamental way. We propose to read Haraway’s turn to the animal as an engagement with political ontology and with the many voices and positions constituting that conversation over the...

    (pp. 95-111)

    It is one thing to show that Haraway is or is not in agreement with other contemporary thinkers, but something completely different to show persuasively that the thought to be found there is truly a thinking of the animal, a vision of multispecies collectivity that actually succeeds in leaving behind the sphere of the human. Much of Cary Wolfe’s Animal Rites, for example, is devoted to critiques of philosophies of difference (Levinas and Lyotard) and philosophies of animal subjectivity (Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and Stanley Cavell, among others), showing that they all unwittingly remain rooted in humanism, which “bars the...

    (pp. 112-136)

    In many ways, reading Haraway is akin to reading feminist science fiction. As Thyrza Goodeve comments, SF provides a model for Haraway’s theoretical work: “you are not just doing one layer of analysis—say of critique or unmasking relationships—but you are also involved in building alternative ontologies, specifically via the use of the imaginative” (Haraway and Goodeve 2000:120). The theory making that results posits SF as both methodological tool and source of creative inspiration; it is a process built on speculation. Thus “science fiction is political theory” for Haraway (120). For those of us who are just as happy...

  10. SOWING WORLDS: A Seed Bag for Terraforming with Earth Others
    (pp. 137-146)

    The political slogan I wore in the Reagan star wars era of the 1980s read, Cyborgs for Earthly Survival! The terrifying times of George H. W. Bush and the secondary Bushes made me switch to slogans purloined from tough Schutzhund dog trainers, Run Fast, Bite Hard! and Shut Up and Train! Today, my slogan reads, Stay with the Trouble! But in all these knots—and especially now, wherewhenever that potent and capacious placetime is—we need a hardy, soiled kind of wisdom. Instructed by companion species of the myriad terran kingdoms in all their placetimes, we need to reseed our...

    (pp. 147-164)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 165-180)
    (pp. 181-194)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 195-206)