The Social Context of the Cyborg

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  Although our society has probably adapted in ways to make some of her original ideas outdated, her themes remain in the realm of the radical and leave much room for individual and societal interpretation and inspiration.

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