Donna. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism
in the Late Twentieth Century." Simians, Cyborgs and Women:
The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. 149-181.
Hawaray’s famous essay winds, triple-helix-like, around three
politically-inflected considerations: feminism, socialism and materialism. Or,
perhaps more precisely, she spins together a critical, (anti)definitional
account of cyborg writing: the problem of agency, that is, in late twentieth
century’s emerging conditions of posthumanism and globalization as such forces
"change what counts as women’s experience" (149).
The essay is organized into the following sections:
I. An Ironic Dream of a Common Language for Women in the Integrated Circuit
(149) (primarily definitional; a lot of giveth and taketh away or additive and
subtractive defining of "cyborg")
II. Fractured Identities (155) (shift away from identity in favor of "affinity"
III. The Informatics of Dominion (161) (gets at the new conditions related to
communications technologies and biotechnologies–a "writing technology" (164))
IV. The ‘Homework Economy’ Outside ‘The Home’ (166) (deals with labor and scene)
V. Women in the Integrated Circuit (170)
VI. Cyborgs: A Myth of Political Identity (173)
Haraway introduces three boundary breakdowns: 1.) the separation between
human and animal; 2.) the distinction between organism and machine; and 3.) the
distinction between physical and non-physical things. Furthermore, beyond
boundary breakdowns, Haraway accounts for miniaturization and ubiquity (even
invisibility) as factors complicating the "new scientific revolution" (153).
"The cyborg is resolutely committed to partiality, irony, intimacy, and
perversity. It is oppositional, utopian, and completely without innocence"
"The boundary is permeable between tool and myth, instrument and concept,
historical systems of social relations and historical anatomies of possible
bodies, including objects of knowledge. Indeed, myth and tool mutually
constitute each other" (164). This begins to blend with ecological psychology
and related considerations of systems as arenas where materiality and mythology
wash into each other.
"These sociobiological stories depend on a high-tech view of the body as a
biotic component or cybernetic [feedback-controlled] communication system"
"’Networking ‘ is both a feminist practice and a multinational corporate
strategy–weaving is for oppositional cyborgs" (170). Haraway gives us so much
buildup–characterizations, descriptions, explanations of new and emerging
dynamics. She might also be said to domesticate the figure of the cyborg; by
establishing it complexly, Haraway becomes a kind of thin referent for all
subsequent cyborg references.
"Intensifications of hardship experienced world-wide in connection with the
social relations of science and technology are severe" (173). How might this be
a more vigorous approach to questions of access? Is access synonymous with
hardship? And why wouldn’t we, then, always keep language fresh for its
relevance to the technology access question?
"Writing is pre-eminently the technology of cyborgs, etched surfaces of the
late twentieth century. Cyborg politics is the struggle for language and the
struggle against perfect communication" (176). The sites for this struggle and
activity are elaborated in section IV, and a statement like this one moves the
cyborg figure, its logic, nearer to composition and rhetoric. Maybe?
"Why should our bodies end at the skin, or include at best other beings
encapsulated by skin?" (178). Another ecological psychology question.
"Cyborg imagery can help express two crucial arguments in this essay: first,
the production of universal, totalizing theory is a major mistake that misses
most of reality, probably always, but certainly now; and second, taking
responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing
an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means
embracing the skilful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in
partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts. It is
not just that science and technology are possible means of great human
satisfaction, as well as a matrix of complex dominations" (181).
- Related sources:
- Winner, Langdon. The Whale and The Reactor: A Search For Limits In An
Age of High Technology. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1986.
- Grossman, Rachael. "Women’s Place in the Integrated Circuit." Radical
America 14.1 (1980): 29-49.