Archive for November, 2008

Donna Haraway

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21, 2008 by katherineer

Donna Haraway’s, “Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”, was definitely very feminist. After understanding her definition of cyborg, “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.” (Haraway 149). To me, this definition was strong because it made me think about technology and society today, and how we really are a mesh of machine and organism and reality and fiction. Today, with how advanced technology is, a mesh of human and machine seems knowingly normal and true. Although, twenty years ago the situation was different. When Haraway wrote this, I think that she was thinking not only differently but trying to go a different direction.

 I believe that for a woman to have written this piece over twenty years ago is really impacting for woman and definitely radical for its time. Although reading it today does not seem that way. Reading Haraway’s opinions I didn’t see it entirely as political, I viewed it as a mesh of what was going on during that time in every situation in society. I think she as a woman was trying to address as much as she could with a feminist twist to it. I believe that many of what Haraway addresses such as, politics, medicine, war, gender, animal rights, science, technology, race, religion, and most importantly survival as a woman and a human identity. I think we can still learn from Haraway’s piece today, exploring the depth and versatility of living in society and what we are succumbed to everyday, facing new challenges.  We are all the same being as Haraway describes. “Our best machines are made of sunshine; they are all light and clean because they are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section of a spectrum… People are nowhere near so fluid, being both material and opaque.”(p.153)

Is Haraway’s theory already obsolete?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 by loragrass

Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science Technology, and Socialst-Feminism in the late Twentieth Century”  seemed to be sending a message to feminists that they were not on the right track.  She seems to argue that this long established “sisterhood” noting that “there is nothing about  being ‘female’ that naturally binds women…Gender, race or class consciousness is an achievement forced on us…”(p. 155).  Terribly radical in it’s time for sure.  But a little harder to read in a year when women lead the way for Hillary Clinton to say that the glass ceiling now has “18 million cracks in it” (Clinton farewell speech, June 7, 2008)

You can see what was radical in her ideas.  Take for example her discussion of the “homework economy” the idea that the white male domination of society was somehow headed toward extinction. “ White men in advanced industrial societs have become newly vulnerable to permanent job loss, and women are not disappearing from the job rolls at the same rate as men” (p. 164).   

Technology calls for a changing of traditional views of gender roles.  Take the Lahti reading.  Young white men are able, if only for the course of one video game, can become a Lara Croft, or anyone else for that matter. The lines blur.  Is Haraway still relevant?  I don’t think so.  

Myth Called Us

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 by micawave

Two parts of this text really intrigued me, first the potential and uses Haraway describes of new cyborg-centric narratives to inspire imagination and creative thinking away from the deeply embedded mythos of duality and destruction. This allows for a concept of female and feminine that is not defined by, that which is not masculine or what kinds of work women typically had done as these are really no longer sufficient for gender definitions. She argues against the common feminist tropes that are essentially the flip side of the phallocentric world view, a Goddess/Mother model. This she feels is not really capable of inclusiveness of all the experiences of female (and male) identity that are present today and emerging due to technology and science. I agree with Haraway that this outlook inspires new narratives that cultures look to for how to live in accord with technology rather than fear.

The second issue Haraway’s manifesto brings to the fore, is the issue of responsibility. Once you identify that you are interconnected with the machine and that you control it you must take responsibility for it. This is something unfortunately missing from most discussions on technology outside of a specific ethical forums, I can only assume because it is a direct affront to highly funded Big Science. If we affirm that we are part of the machine and that we are conscious beings then we can no longer keep discussions of social consequences delimited to special situations only.

I found these two issues still very relevant to contemporary discussions on technoculture. Perhaps Haraway’s once radical take might now be seen as a pragmatic approach as technology intersects and intertwines in our lives more and more each day.

A few thoughts:

Are we not crafting cyborg identities as we freely forge and maintain relationships by distributing our personalities via social networks and mobile devices?

Will this techno-positive and responsible approach seem obvious to those growing up now?

Whom does this favor and disfavor? Seems like this is hard to buy into for some as it renders certain distinctions impotent and creates a lot of gray areas.

Anyone else read Sadie Plant’s book Zeros + Ones?

Haraway and Lahti

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 by andrewsmrz

From what I can understand of the readings, there is to me a desire for liberation from the physical body (or communion with a machine) that I sincerely cannot see as realistic.  When Haraway writes that “there is nothing about being ‘female’ that naturally binds women.  There is not even such a state as being female…”, I am of two minds of a statement such as this.  On the one hand, I can respect and understand the desire to liberate one’s self from the baggage and burdens of history and gender and society and every context that constrains or limits our identity.  On the other hand, the desire to liberate our selves from pesky connotations and definitions by fusing our consciousness with machines and technology is to me troublesome at best and repulsive at worst.  The desire seems just as pie in the sky as any fundamentalist dream of a Marxist or Mormon paradise.  It doesn’t seem like a liberation but an escape from reality.

The communion of humans and machines is examined in Lahti’s “As We Become Machines” in various musings on the possibility of immersion into video games as they evolve in 3D capability and the ability to be make the communion more “addictive”.  It seems for Lahti a beneficial exercise as pudgy white boys “try on” the ability to run through a fantasy game world as a woman or a non-white person or someone in physical shape.  It seems to me limiting.  The benefits of understanding is a real trade off with the time wasted in an unreal escapist world.

The Social Context of the Cyborg

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 by katiekoep

In A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century Donna Haraway establishes the cyborg – a “a hybrid of machine and organism” (149) – as metaphor to dictate her socialist-feminist ideals, comment on modern technology and modern society and shed light on a wealth of timeless issues.

To me, the most interesting exploration the cyborg provokes is of identity and individuality issues.  It allows her to break the social bonds of gender, race, religion, etc. and explore the self beyond those restrictions.  And more than that, the cyborg allows us to see ourselves the label of human or living organism.  It allows all the cultural lines within the human race to blur and then takes it a step further, morphing the idea of human.  This can be seen as both a manifestation of individuality, allowing us to completely reinvent ourselves from scratch, and a destruction of individuality, blurring the boundaries that differentiate us to the point where we are begin to sort of meld together.  Either way, she constructs an important critique of our society using a symbol that inherently incorporates technology as well, which ends up being a vital issue discussed in her text as well.

Regardless of its publication date, I think this piece remains quite relevant to many issues still present in our society today and can be interpreted to relate to many different situations because its key underlying themes are quite ageless.  Although our society has probably adapted in ways to make some of her original ideas outdated, her themes remain in the realm of the radical and leave much room for individual and societal interpretation and inspiration.

Cyborg Manifesto

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2008 by christinatx

Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto is a feminist representation that to me is radical a various sections within the text.  Personally, I believe that there were some unnecessary or even to some extreme annotations within her discussions. Clearly Haraway utilizes her ideologies to contend areas within social structure, sexuality, technology, and Christian theology.

Within her discussions Haraway does present ideologies that are at this point somewhat redundant. Haraway address how our cultures and world are/have been changed due to the advances in the fields of science and technology. The concept of cyborg that is presented has no boundaries and blurs the lines between humans and machines. We have seen this concept in our previous readings as well. We are fused together with our technology and rely on its assistance to function in our society. I do not think of Haraway’s cyborg as a movement of “dangerous possibilities” (154), but rather it is creating a whole new area of opportunities.

Haraway also addresses the concept of non identity with relation to cyborg technologies. For Haraway, there is no race, gender, religion, etc. to be placed on. Is this so true now? I don’t know if I agree. The creation and use of avatars is an area where people can become anything or anyone that they want by choosing specific features, clothes, etc. We still aren’t truly unison as Haraway would suggest. According to Donna Haraway, the cyborg is a means to eliminate social and cultural classifications.

Dismantling Boundaries by Utilizing the Cyborg Body

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2008 by mediasaucy

Donna Haraway in “A Cyborg Manifesto…” advocates going beyond the Marxist/feminist activist plot to re-inscribing history with women’s shared experience to embrace the biotechnical and adopt cybernetic organisms and bionic extensions as parts of the self.

“The international women’s movements have constructed ‘women’s experience,’ as well as uncovered or discovered this crucial collective object.” (Haraway 149).

She argues that this approach to reordering the social structure would be more effective to obtain the goals of Marxism/feminism because by adding onto the natural elements of the body with biotechnology and cybernetic parts—“cybernetic organisms”—individuals can effectively disrupt the codifying of the body with titles, power, order and connotation-infused binary opposites, which would force all active users to embrace/become “Other”-ized. “The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labor, or other seductions to organic wholeness…” (Haraway 150).

Haraway in “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” acknowledges the historical offerings of Socialist and feminist activist writers, critics, theorists, thinkers and poets. She mentions the power of re-inscribing a title upon oneself, that is, taking on the ownership of a name as is discussed in Audre Lorde’s “biomythography” Zami (A New Spelling of My Name) a story in which a woman tells of her coming of age and empowerment in naming herself. (Haraway 174). The act of renaming is often discussed in feminist texts as empowering because it removes power from the act of a name being applied to a body and places the power in the hands of the individual to name herself. In this way, the original use of power in wielding a name for a young girl is subverted and reassigned.

In the same way that naming one’s self is an act of subverting the power of a dominant paradigm (in this case one’s parents or caregivers), so is the process of embracing a cyborg body—one that is not male or female, black or white, dominant or submissive—but a non-organic life force which has no mother or father and cannot eb easily placed into one division or another of these binary opposite positions. Haraway argues that only when we begin to consider ourselves and other people in this fragmented, non-codified state (as Other) can true equality be obtained. The playing ground would be leveled and the drawing board of history, so long marked up only by those who wielded power, wealth, influence, maleness, privilege, etc. can finally be wiped clean and a new history can be written. “But there are great riches for feminists in explicitly embracing the possibilities inherent in the breakdown of clean distinctions between the organism and the machine and similar distinctions structuring the Western self,” she says (174).

Haraway also acknowledges the socio/poetic work of Adrienne Rich, a lesbian activist poet whose collection “Dream of a Common Language” is cherished by feminist circles for its incitement to embrace a collective “women’s experience”—a return to Gaea, as Haraway names Mother Earth—and the embrace of all things female including reproduction, menstruation, creation, nurturing/feeding, etc. (imagine Eve formed from Adam’s rib and dirt). But Haraway wants to go beyond the rediscovery of the Goddess myth often advocated by late Second Wave/early Third Wave feminists and extend definitions into cyberspace—to take a step into the unknown, technological, disembodied and “unsex”-ed realm of the cyborg. Here we would all find the fatherless reinvention of language. Being stripped of all of our codified, weighted terms, we would have to invent a new language—a common language—which would put everyone on equal ground in considering their genderless, sex-less, raceless posturing as cyborgs—only part human but also part machine.

While Haraway’s concluding statements lean a little far in the direction of anarcho-feminist incitement to take down all the institutions, dismantle all traditions and rewrite history [“…Cyborg imagery can suggest way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia. It is an imagination of a feminist speaking in tongues to strike fear into the circuits of the super-savers of the new right…” (Haraway 181). ]this remains a groundbreaking, critical texts that challenges so many areas of philosophy with nuances into sociology, sexual identity, feminism, Marxism, biotechnology, and other fields of theory that even though it is more than 20 years old it is still widely read and many of the concepts are still very relevant and timely.