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Simians, Cyborgs and Women is a powerful collection of ten essays written between 1978 and 1989. Although on the surface, simians, cyborgs and women may seem an odd threesome, Haraway describes their profound link as creatures which have had a great destabilizing place in Western evolutionary technology and biology. Throughout this book, Haraway analyzes accounts, narrativ Simians, Cyborgs and Women is a powerful collection of ten essays written between 1978 and 1989. Although on the surface, simians, cyborgs and women may seem an odd threesome, Haraway describes their profound link as creatures which have had a great destabilizing place in Western evolutionary technology and biology. Throughout this book, Haraway analyzes accounts, narratives, and stories of the creation of nature, living organisms, and cyborgs. At once a social reality and a science fiction, the cyborg--a hybrid of organism and machine--represents transgressed boundaries and intense fusions of the nature/culture split. By providing an escape from rigid dualisms, the cyborg exists in a post-gender world, and as such holds immense possibilities for modern feminists. Haraway's recent book, Primate Visions, has been called outstanding, original, and brilliant, by leading scholars in the field. (First published in 1991.)


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Simians, Cyborgs and Women is a powerful collection of ten essays written between 1978 and 1989. Although on the surface, simians, cyborgs and women may seem an odd threesome, Haraway describes their profound link as creatures which have had a great destabilizing place in Western evolutionary technology and biology. Throughout this book, Haraway analyzes accounts, narrativ Simians, Cyborgs and Women is a powerful collection of ten essays written between 1978 and 1989. Although on the surface, simians, cyborgs and women may seem an odd threesome, Haraway describes their profound link as creatures which have had a great destabilizing place in Western evolutionary technology and biology. Throughout this book, Haraway analyzes accounts, narratives, and stories of the creation of nature, living organisms, and cyborgs. At once a social reality and a science fiction, the cyborg--a hybrid of organism and machine--represents transgressed boundaries and intense fusions of the nature/culture split. By providing an escape from rigid dualisms, the cyborg exists in a post-gender world, and as such holds immense possibilities for modern feminists. Haraway's recent book, Primate Visions, has been called outstanding, original, and brilliant, by leading scholars in the field. (First published in 1991.)

30 review for Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is one of the only academic, theoretical texts I have read cover to cover in a while (fellow academics, you know we peruse for what is relevant for our research rather than read everything thoroughly). Haraway does a great job of showing the biases in science which seek to reinforce and naturalize patriarchal and racial domination, the impact of capitalist thinking and mentality on the theories and production of science, and that science is mostly visionary, even if it is not necessarily li This is one of the only academic, theoretical texts I have read cover to cover in a while (fellow academics, you know we peruse for what is relevant for our research rather than read everything thoroughly). Haraway does a great job of showing the biases in science which seek to reinforce and naturalize patriarchal and racial domination, the impact of capitalist thinking and mentality on the theories and production of science, and that science is mostly visionary, even if it is not necessarily liberatory (to paraphrase her). She asserts that all knowledge must be reexamined and examined in the future from an explicitly feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonialist epistemology. But in her most successful chapters, she explores the foolishness of dichotomous, binary thinking when it comes to gender and sex, human and machine, and objectivity and subjectivity. "Cyborg Manifesto" fascinatingly employs the metaphor of the cyborg to discuss how we should embrace the contradictions, confusions, and dichotomies in our identities and life to end binary thinking, thinking which denies us complexity. She also argues that the age of technology has fundamentally changed the fate and nature of humanity, especially for the subjugated. And in the next chapter, "Situated Knowledges," she shows that objectivity as we know and revere it does not exist, but true subjectivity comes from appreciating and elevating partiality, subjectivity, the voices and critical inquiry of the subjugated, and contextualized knowledges—there is not such thing as universality.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Norton

    A collection of papers from 1978-89 and as such dated, since many of the debates contained in here have moved further along - debates about gender having moved well over in to the mainstream today. The earlier papers about the history of primatology are the most interesting, charting the shifting imperatives (diagnosed as ideological) behind the varying emphases given by different theorists who are clearly looking for lessons about the human world in their carefully constructed model of the anima A collection of papers from 1978-89 and as such dated, since many of the debates contained in here have moved further along - debates about gender having moved well over in to the mainstream today. The earlier papers about the history of primatology are the most interesting, charting the shifting imperatives (diagnosed as ideological) behind the varying emphases given by different theorists who are clearly looking for lessons about the human world in their carefully constructed model of the animal world. What does come across is that feminists had no difficulty getting in to the field and promoting alternative interpretations - this is not an isolated citadel, requiring the battalions of Critical Theory to draw up their war-engines and break the walls to free the prisoners. Debate and revision and even debunking seem to have been quite possible, even if it didn't proceed in the caricature of methodology favoured by lay "rationalists" (dubbed "positivism" by its enemies). In fact the only new observation Haraway has on the story is that the feminists could go further in challenging the notion of "nature", presumed as a counterpoint to "culture" - but she doesn't tell us how that line would work out, and she doesn't seem to really know herself either. She does explicitly reject, at several points, any naive constructionist view that denies any role for material facts. Of course one lesson we could draw from this tale is a Feynmanian moral that the "life sciences" are just a cargo cult and should be repudiated in favour of a rigorous physicalist eliminativism, a conclusion which Haraway does briefly allude to on pg.77. Things sag a little after that. There is a discussion of the novels of Buchi Emecheta, which is simply a meditation on the agonies of being a reflective white western feminist in crit. theory who doesn't know who she is presuming to speak for or what to say about them. From the mid 80s onward the book starts to get haunted by a concern about "postmodernism", which just seems to be the dominating influence of that tedious gasbag Frederic Jameson. "The Cyborg Manifesto" is a lousy farrago of currently-fashionable talking points, the sole interest is that quite a few are still current in 2016. Things pick up again with the discussion of "Situated knowledges" and Haraway reiterates the need for a conception of a material base for any criticism of dominating discourses, which she hasn't lost sight of despite absorbing lots of inane pomo chatter over the years. What she wants is a version of contextualist epistemology and a formulation of objectivity that doesn't rest on transcendental vacuities - these were and are major topics in Anglophone philosophy for the last few decades, and there is plenty of work anyone wanting to escape pomo can make use of. Reading this book does convey a sense of the terrible anxiety afflicting any intelligent thinker working in Critical Theory (the idiot majority are presumably content). It must be hard to stand in front of classes of 20 year olds and talk about radical perspectives, when most of your listeners are barely conscious of the traditional ones, and nearly all of them are going to fall into utterly conventional bourgeois lives within a few years anyway. There should be a special confidential counselling service for these academics.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    All of Haraway's books are brilliant and definitely worth reading. Probably the single most inspiring and powerful white feminist theorists of our time. This book is best known for its classic essay playing with the notion of the cyborg as a feminist, revolutionary figure. Now the essay feels a bit dated, and doesn't compare to her later Modest Witness. What makes Simians really interesting, though, is how it's a full arch of a brilliant philosophy in her growth, and transformation across highly All of Haraway's books are brilliant and definitely worth reading. Probably the single most inspiring and powerful white feminist theorists of our time. This book is best known for its classic essay playing with the notion of the cyborg as a feminist, revolutionary figure. Now the essay feels a bit dated, and doesn't compare to her later Modest Witness. What makes Simians really interesting, though, is how it's a full arch of a brilliant philosophy in her growth, and transformation across highly volatile times for feminist theory. While many white (socialist and otherwise) feminists of the 1970s, faced with the crises of postmodernism and anti-racist critique from women of color, retreated farther into right-wing scary politics. Haraway, in the 70s, was a brilliant Marxist writing on biology on primatology. Simians includes some of these early essays. Then the 80s hit, and more essays offer her thoughtful, self-critical reflection on the neocolonial and racist currents of academic feminism, and a profound transformation in the face of postmodernism and post-structuralism. The end result is radiant, magnificent brilliance. Simians follows this full arch, offering a powerful testimony to what real growth among academics could look like.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Although difficult, this book is an important mediation between the emerging rift between traditional 'objective' knowledge and totally relativistic subjective knowledge. Harraway, a trained Zoologist is well placed to enter into the debates regarding the production of knowledge. Furthermore, contrary to many post-modern thinkers, Deleuze, Lacan, Spivak and Zizek come to mind, Harraway has a real subject which constantly grounds her ideas. She is not just writing about writing, although she does Although difficult, this book is an important mediation between the emerging rift between traditional 'objective' knowledge and totally relativistic subjective knowledge. Harraway, a trained Zoologist is well placed to enter into the debates regarding the production of knowledge. Furthermore, contrary to many post-modern thinkers, Deleuze, Lacan, Spivak and Zizek come to mind, Harraway has a real subject which constantly grounds her ideas. She is not just writing about writing, although she does that as well. Many people get put off by the technical-jargon and invented words in her essay Cyborg Manifesto...most of these people that I have met are guilty of reading that article first since it is usually the one most discussed. Do not go this route. One of the greatest virtues of the book is that it goes from her more focused early work in 81 to her more inventive complicated work 91. If you follow along and read some of the early, some of the mid and some of the later work (or better yet the whole thing) you might be startled to realize that something amazing has happened to your perspectives regarding debates such as Nature vs Nurture, Gene vs Organism, objective vs subjective, they will seem absurd. In what is, I think, one of the best articles of the later half of the twentieth century, Situated Knowledges, later half of the book, Harraway introduces just that situated knoweldge, the importance of understanding the location of the observer in all observation. Just as Einstien did in his theory of Relativity she points to the utter importance of location for an accurate understanding of knoweldge. In Einstein it was location in spacetime, for harraway it is location in the social world. Fans of Richard Lewontin may notice an uncanny transferability between her thought and his.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Candy Wood

    This collection of previously-published essays has quite a bit of repetition even though Haraway says she revised for this volume, but that can be a good thing for readers whose knowledge of modern biology and biotechnology may be limited. She apparently wrote before the Borg appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I would be interested to see how she would reconcile that negative view with her attempt to convince readers that the cyborg's fusion of organism and machine offers hope for h This collection of previously-published essays has quite a bit of repetition even though Haraway says she revised for this volume, but that can be a good thing for readers whose knowledge of modern biology and biotechnology may be limited. She apparently wrote before the Borg appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I would be interested to see how she would reconcile that negative view with her attempt to convince readers that the cyborg's fusion of organism and machine offers hope for humanity, especially for feminists. Chapter 8, her "Cyborg Manifesto," is the detailed statement of the argument and has been influential in ecocritical writing. As in much ecocriticism, the need to overcome dualisms such as human-animal and human-machine is key, and Haraway contributes to the conversation with her insistence that a feminist science is possible. She also insists repeatedly that no position is innocent, reminding readers of the need to examine all assumptions. Much to think about, often written with engaging humor.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Simply stated, Haraway rocked my worldview. The Cyborg Manifesto was the basis for my Sr. Thesis ... the concept of activism birthed in the "borderlands," the lachlein, situated knowledges. The language felt circular at times, even redundant, but it all has purpose--it might be seen as "Irigarayan" writing the body of the cyborg, brilliant stuff in my estimation. Read and reread Haraway, I continually discover something new when I revisit an essay.

  7. 5 out of 5

    boocia

    skidded into a mad depression when reading the last two essays and i will say: this book is hard to parse when you're unfocused !! that being said; had a great time; i think haraway's alignments filled in a blank for me wrt to feminism n socialism n stuff: taking on science seriously as a useful tool, a tool that SHOULD be taken up as part of the feminist-socialist project. her central premise is trying to destroy the presumption that science and culture are separate things. the interesting but skidded into a mad depression when reading the last two essays and i will say: this book is hard to parse when you're unfocused !! that being said; had a great time; i think haraway's alignments filled in a blank for me wrt to feminism n socialism n stuff: taking on science seriously as a useful tool, a tool that SHOULD be taken up as part of the feminist-socialist project. her central premise is trying to destroy the presumption that science and culture are separate things. the interesting but less invigorating aspect of this was analyzing how scientific movements are of course, reflections of cultural movements. 'observations' of hierarchies or alpha males in primate studies clearly cropping up hand in hand with capitalism, enforcement of gender roles in humans. still, great breakdowns there. the other side of this is how to practice science, culturally, in a way that is more helpful. her essay on how objectivity can be redefined to better speak for marginalized people was incredibly cool to me! really liked the idea of 'partiality', of grounding observations and conclusions in contexts instead of this historically white and patriarchal scientific ethos of universalizing as much as possible. the nuance of setting partiality against relativism, which sort of collapses truth (nothing is real if everything is relative) was a nice touch. other great takeaways: old-school takedown of sex/gender binary was just well-rendered; i liked how the sex-gender binary was explained as a reverberating reinforced inaccuracy for science to support culture to support science: 'the ongoing tactical usefulness of the sex/gender distinction in life and social sciences has had dire consequences for much feminist theory, tying it to a liberal and functionalist paradigm despite repeated efforts to transcend those limits'. i am obsessed with her theme of Boundaries/immunology in the back-half of this collection; it's really making me reconsider permeability and contradiction both materially (disease) and existentially (self) and socially. i think partiality is a concession of permeable boundaries; i think her staging the idea of maintaining impermeable boundaries as a late capitalist / post modernist obsession is really helpful and sick as hell. i will say she is vague; as people have complained about; in that her essays sort of drop off at the end in a the rest of the fucking owl, 'exercise left to the reader' way, but that's ok. in effect, there's a horizon-like leap, a reach, you can't concretize what the next step is but you need to keep striving, aspect to this that i'm willing to indulge in. but also, i'm just batting way above where i should be so a lot of references and 'the obvious' are lost, so who knows.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Quaintance

    Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto proposes new ways for thinking about unity, objectivity, and marginalised personhood, in an idiom which is particularly useful for feminists. In an increasingly technology-dominated world, Haraway’s 1985 essay continues to offer a perspective, an answer to the question ‘what now?’ regarding emancipatory theory, following an occasionally violent dissolution of boundaries that French poststructuralist thought proposed. Haraway’s theory dissolves boundaries, but i Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto proposes new ways for thinking about unity, objectivity, and marginalised personhood, in an idiom which is particularly useful for feminists. In an increasingly technology-dominated world, Haraway’s 1985 essay continues to offer a perspective, an answer to the question ‘what now?’ regarding emancipatory theory, following an occasionally violent dissolution of boundaries that French poststructuralist thought proposed. Haraway’s theory dissolves boundaries, but it also proposes new ways of thinking as well as addresses faults in theories which search for some unifying essence which is practically, socially, and scientifically unattainable. Trained as a scientist, Haraway’s perspective on objectivity is crucial to all humanities-focused theorists, and her concern for humanity is likewise essential to scientists. She proposes that if this unity is impossible, one can perhaps consider the opposite: a parade of chimeric monsters sporting mechanical limbs, banding together to defy the myth of universal maternal essence. These cyborgs are at the heart of Haraway’s proposal, for they offer potentiality in the rubble left behind in the violent anxiety of what was perceived as ‘postmodernity.’ Cyborgs are different from the machines of the past; one recalls with amusement Walter Benjamin’s poetic fragment regarding an automaton which appeared to be mechanically miraculous but was actually operated by an organic creature within. These are new machines,in an age wherein an organic element does not always prevail and unpredictable maneuverings of machines cannot be chalked up to the presence of some specter. There was a time where machines were not autonomous, and had always the presence of some man (or ghost) within. ‘Now we are not so sure.’ Monsters are transforming into cyborgs, as they are both beings which ‘define the limits of community in Western imaginations.’ When considering how to form political communities (particularly regarding liberation, which the feminist Haraway is committed to), one must understand what the ‘limit’ of community is. Haraway goes beyond this and suggests that we reconsider community, including the monstrous cyborgs that once signified the limit. Cyborgs, monsters, and labour are bound up with one another - is technology, more specifically perhaps industry, one source of depictions of monsters? In visual culture, this motif reappears: we recall factory workers being likened to zombies or the horrifying Morlocks in H.G. Wells’ Time Machine who co-dwelled subterraneously with clanking, frightening machinery, in constant toil. A Marxist reimagining changes this context which has been applied to ‘monsters.’ In Haraway’s new context, ‘the machine is not an it to be animated, worshipped, and dominated. The machine is us, our processes, an aspect of our embodiment.’ This recontextualisation and definition of the ‘cyborg’ is so important because it is an answer to the frustratingly vague refrain of an underlying universal unity which feminists have searched in vain for. ‘A cyborg body is not innocent; it was not born in a garden, it does not seek unitary identity and so generate antagonistic dualisms.’ Antagonistic dualisms - what a term for those opposing poles which emerge constantly since Hegel’s unleashing of dialectics, a veritable Pandora’s box which upon opening released monsters which theorists have yet to work through. As a scientist, Haraway proposes a feminist way of thinking about objectivity, a task which may have once seemed impossible to her audience of humanities scholars informed by post-structuralist thought. Through readings of The Cyborg Manifesto as well as Haraway’s essay on objectivity, Situated Knowledges, we come to see that there is great potential to be found in creatively re-imagining worlds, humans and boundaries. The cyborg is the monster of the 21st century and thus is categorised as an enemy, the ‘illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism’. Yet we are reminded that illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins,’ and can imagine that the cyborg could defect from its order, helping us accomplish previously impossible boundary breakdowns, between human and animal, animal and machine, physical and nonphysical. These boundary breakdowns inform rejections which Haraway performs, primarily the rejection of the plot of ‘original unity’ which haunts and perplexes narratives of feminism. This original unity was once thought to be what could unite women under some doctrine of a unifying spiritual mother, but which women were to be united, and how could this be possible due to the varying perspectives? Although Haraway dismisses this doctrine, she graciously acknowledges why and how this idea of unity has proliferated in the critical theory of her era: ‘then came the law of the father and its resolution of the problem of objectivity, solved by always already absent referents, deferred signifieds, split subjects, and the endless play of signifiers. Who wouldn’t grow up warped? Rejecting the impossibility of a split subject forever in agony from some primordial separation, Haraway moves toward a new framework for imagining the subject without this theatrical origin story. The cyborg is ironically without origin; they ‘are not reverent’, they ‘do not remember the cosmos.’ This is ironic because the cyborg, in another idiom, is considered to be the final product of the ‘awful apocalyptic telos of the ‘West’s’ escalating dominations of abstract individuation, an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency.’ If this were reformulated as Haraway proposes, a feminist consciousness could latch onto the idea of a self ‘untied from dependency’ on subjugating systems of power. In order to be rid of the plot of original unity, several dismantlings must occur. First, nature is reconsidered. Feminists could distance themselves from the idea that they are constituted, as a group, by nature. As Derrida puts it, ‘there is no nature, only the effects of nature: denaturalisation or naturalisation.’ The plot of unity is enabled by a conception of nature, and it is kept alive by theories which imply its existence, namely Marxism and psychoanalysis. These ‘depend on the plot of original unity out of which difference must be produced and enlisted in a drama of escalating domination of woman/nature. The cyborg skips the step of original unity, of identification with nature in the Western sense.’ As cyborgs, we can eschew that pesky binding oedipal law of the father, we can bypass the impossible agony of a split subject, and we need not be arbitrarily categorised by nature. Cyborgs do not need to operate under the oppressive matrix enacted following the Fall, they turn unflinchingly to the Garden and burn it down, ridding the modern feminist consciousness of the problems of innocence and the necessity of a heterosexual ‘organic’ family. This is an essential break with previous feminist theory which has ‘proceeded as if the organic, hierarchical dualisms ordering discourse in ‘the West’ since Aristotle still ruled.’ There is thus nothing that makes women ‘essentially woman,’ a problematic statement if one continues to cling to the belief that the only way to achieve unity is through some shared essence. How, then, are we to find unity, and without a shared essence, how are we able to speak each other’s language and form connections? We seek another meaning or practice of ‘unity.’ Coincidentally, ‘Unity’ is a computer programming language developed in 1988 known for working in a non-deterministic way, allowing for programs to run indefinitely without a teleological flow. Perhaps we can consider a feminist ‘unity’ without exclusion or hierarchy, and Haraway suggests this is possible by seeking ‘affinity’ rather than ‘unity,’ and by reconsidering the faculty of vision. The revolutions which technology has enacted make it necessary to fundamentally disassemble old theories. No unity will be possible under exclusively identity-based feminism. There are possibilities - one could potentially craft a ‘poetic or political unity’ that does not rely on a ‘logic of appropriation, incorporation, and taxonomic identification.’ The feminist dream of some universal tongue is fundamentally impossible.‘Am I not reaching out for you in the only language I know?’ Asks the feminist theorist Audre Lorde. ‘If I try to hear you across your differences will that mean you can hear me?’ Maybe words will not suffice, for the dream of a common language is too tempting and misleading, suggesting too strongly totality. ‘We do not need a totality to work well’ -- after all, totality tends to imply an imperialist force. Haraway suggests we could turn to vision, a fruitful suggestion for visual theorists. Vision could be considered a subjugating force, especially by feminist theorists such as Laura Mulvey, inventor of the critical ‘gaze.’ But reclaiming that force could be useful. ‘Vision can be good for avoiding binary oppositions,’ and given its embodied nature, helps privilege a form of unity based not on one-ness but on affinity and appreciation for differing perspectives, literally. Vision can be a good way to think about difference. Vision, like the cyborg, is reclaimed from the territory of a danger, enemy, or weapon, and is tamed and reappropriated into the modern feminist’s arsenal. The next tool for this arsenal, in addition to the cyborg attitude and a privileging of vision, is a new dialectical method informed by irony. When two things are true at once, we need not performing elaborate dialectical manoeuvres to quell their opposition. Irony allows us to freely sit in the discomfort of two opposing truths. ‘At the center of’ Haraway’s ‘ironic faith’ is the ‘image of the cyborg.’ Haraway then offers a crucial solution to the problem of objectivity, long pondered by feminists and humanities thinkers wary of ‘hard science’. She humorously compares attempting to find a usable doctrine of objectivity to ‘climbing a greased pole,’ but she climbs nonetheless, recognising that an outright rejection of ‘objectivity’ robs us of a useful tool for the arsenal, so to speak. After all,‘we could use some enforceable, reliable accounts of things not reducible to power moves and agonistic, high status games of rhetoric or to scientistic, positivist arrogance. Objectivity has had the misfortune of being bound to Western cultural narratives, but how can one imagine a new narrative for objectivity? Haraway offers yet another solution: situated knowledges. Feminist objectivity is about ‘limited location and situated knowledge, not about transcendence and splitting of subject and object.’ Perhaps in contradiction to her fellow radical cultural theorists, Haraway is wary of social constructionism, which she categorises as a particular strain of postmodernism, for it runs the risk of assuming and absorbing tired cultural narratives: We have used a lot of toxic ink and trees processed into paper decrying what they have meant and how it hurts us. The imagined ‘they’ constitute a kind of invisible conspiracy of masculinist scientists and philosophers replete with grants and laboratories, and the imagined ‘we’ are the embodied others, who are not allowed not to have a body, a finite point of view, and so inevitably disqualifying and polluting bias in any discussion of consequence outside our own little circles. There is a danger, Haraway warns, in theorising every knowledge claim as a power move, a theory which is ‘tempting.’ Tempting as it may be, coming to any final equation is dangerous in any terms: whether this equation is decided to be a staunch social constructionism, scientistic purity, or primordial unity - it’s all a ‘deadly fantasy.’ Rather than bemoaning the frustration of dualisms and offering an unattainable or nonsensical solution, Haraway proposes a different way of thinking about things that could have practical applications - she offers reappropriations, reconstitutions, regenerations. Cyborgs have less to do with ‘birth’, as in the birth of some new mode of thought, rather they rely upon ‘regeneration.’ The cyborg is an alternative pathway out of a ‘maze of dualisms, and ‘In our present political circumstances, we could hardly hope for more potent myths for resistance and recoupling.’ In Haraway, we come across a theory which is not destructive but constructive, and privileges useful, imaginative alternatives rather than violent postmodern disillusions: As feminists and theorists, we seek an understanding of ‘how meanings and bodies are made, not in order to deny meaning and bodies, but in order to live in meanings and bodies that have a chance for the future.’

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

    The best damn postmodern essayist of the 80's and 90's. Everyone ends up reading the Cyborg Manifesto as an undergraduate at some point, but it's well worth a re-reading (although I am forced to admit that at more than twenty years old, it's language--but not ideas--are a bit dated). I need to remember to assign essays from this book more often. "The Past as a Contested Zone" is a brilliant critique about the way we think about human nature and a discussion of discourses among primatologists at The best damn postmodern essayist of the 80's and 90's. Everyone ends up reading the Cyborg Manifesto as an undergraduate at some point, but it's well worth a re-reading (although I am forced to admit that at more than twenty years old, it's language--but not ideas--are a bit dated). I need to remember to assign essays from this book more often. "The Past as a Contested Zone" is a brilliant critique about the way we think about human nature and a discussion of discourses among primatologists at the same time; "Situated Knowledges" is one of the most influential essays on my own thinking about epistemology, and "The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies" finds surprising insight on the subject of how we think about the self through a reading of discourses about human immune systems.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aziz Morfeq

    A cyborg is an irony not a prophecy; it is already happening in out daily life. It is the future that we are constructing, the science is constructed not discovered, and the truth is made not found. Therefore, a cyborg feminism will be a chance to create a post-œdipal era, a world without gender. Constructing our reality by using our new myths (science is one of these myth) is a way for a new utopia, a cyborg has no genesis, we do not have to follow history in order to know its complexes. Œdipus A cyborg is an irony not a prophecy; it is already happening in out daily life. It is the future that we are constructing, the science is constructed not discovered, and the truth is made not found. Therefore, a cyborg feminism will be a chance to create a post-œdipal era, a world without gender. Constructing our reality by using our new myths (science is one of these myth) is a way for a new utopia, a cyborg has no genesis, we do not have to follow history in order to know its complexes. Œdipus “left“ the equation. I will rewrite this after I finish my second read. This books if extraordinarily amazing, not only for feminists it is also helpful as a way of thinking. FIVE STARS.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rekha

    Modern feminist theorist Haraway's essays on biology and human culture that mixes traditional Marxist thought with postmodernism.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Clark

    I love this book! Her essay "A Cyborg Manifesto" is in it, which is a must-read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nitami

    Too much postmodern truth relativism.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert Hudder

    I was in university. Did some studies in History of Science, Philosophy of Science and reading a lot of communications theorists. Many of them coming from economics or history. Somehow, this book of essays ended up crossing my path. I was deeply disappointed in postmodernism and the weird binary that seemed to infect academy. Sure, I was undergrad but I had hoped that learning stuff would somehow at least reflect some of my daily experience. Reading Kuhn and how science is done helped a lot. Sur I was in university. Did some studies in History of Science, Philosophy of Science and reading a lot of communications theorists. Many of them coming from economics or history. Somehow, this book of essays ended up crossing my path. I was deeply disappointed in postmodernism and the weird binary that seemed to infect academy. Sure, I was undergrad but I had hoped that learning stuff would somehow at least reflect some of my daily experience. Reading Kuhn and how science is done helped a lot. Sure, there was messiness and contradictions but it seemed to hold together better than a lot of the other stuff out there. The idea of the cyborg, even though it was partially a joke, kind of got at a way out. It was a way to construct self in a shitty system that didn't rely on having to agree to certain ideas about the current system. That was helpful but the current explanations sucked. They still do. Cyborg theory is gaining a new life lately and it is one of two essays that seemed to still be interesting to me as a reader reading this almost 30 years later. The other was on sex/gender. The basic thrust was how to define sex/gender for a Marxist dictionary. The part that I like and keep turning over is that sex/gender is like nature/culture. In science, the nature/nurture thing is kind of dead. It doesn't mean that it isn't sometimes helpful but it isn't a good way of talking about how things are in toto. That essay has a lot of other valid points around gender the word and the construct that at least get one thinking. This looking at binaries and saying that maybe that wasn't all there is while still using them for their ability to allow for criticism felt more real than the alternative of diving into a whole mess of other -isms. It also gave me the push to leave academia because even with this, the Kuhn book and her other essays, in some ways showed me that the way school works would never work for me. it is a lot of politics, hierarchy, and genealogy of thought and not a lot of trying to see how that works for most people. It is a lot of middle class white folk arguing about stuff they haven't lived. I do have a soft spot because of this. I would recommend it for folks who have a decent knowledge of the history of science. I know that it is aimed at feminists but it is from a different era now and I am not sure how much they would see themselves in it. However, for all its sloppyness and fury making goodness, I would recommend reading A Cyborg Manifesto. Don't mind the wooly thinking. It is trying to embrace that.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adriaan

    Simians, Cyborgs, and Women is a collection of ten essays, covering a range of topics on the intersection of science and feminism. The writing is highly associative, which is an interesting and surprisingly effective style of communication, but it also requires effort to try and see the book from Haraway's intended perspective. I tried to read the book as a work on philosophy of science. Especially in the first few chapters, the book is grounded in a thorough overview of the history of evolutiona Simians, Cyborgs, and Women is a collection of ten essays, covering a range of topics on the intersection of science and feminism. The writing is highly associative, which is an interesting and surprisingly effective style of communication, but it also requires effort to try and see the book from Haraway's intended perspective. I tried to read the book as a work on philosophy of science. Especially in the first few chapters, the book is grounded in a thorough overview of the history of evolutionary psychology and primate sociology, Haraway's original field of study. Her reading of these sciences is essentially as a tool of oppression; the category of nature is constructed by observing apes through the lens of theoretical frameworks that fit within the mindset of prestigious scientific institutes. Basically, scientists have exclusively looked at male apes as drivers of change, and have interpreted the role of female apes as passive and reproductive. Only through advancement in human society did scientists start considering other points of view. This work culminates in the essay on Situated Knowledges, in which Haraway argues that the concept of objectivity is fundamentally inaccessible, and any pretense of it is merely a tool for the powerful to elevate their own perspective. Instead, all knowledge should be considered situated within its social context. The point is not that all theories are equally valid (indeed the standard scientific demands of rigor should apply), nor that they are primarily socially constructed as in Kuhnian philosophy of science, but that they can develop and communicate on equal footing. Science should be stronger when it can learn from multiple different perspectives rather than insisting that the interpretation of powerful men is most "objective". In short she is taking Popper's observation that facts are theory-laden one step further to observe that "theory" includes the scientist's perspective of reality and thus social position. Overall, the book gives a fascinating perspective on the nature of facts and science, providing much food for thought but never a truly concrete view. The most famous essay, the Cyborg Manifesto, is actually the odd one out. Unfortunately that one went over my head.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    I read The Cyborg Manifesto and found it long, convoluted, contradictory and so abstract that I questioned the practical use of it. I am really surprised and suspicious of the popularity of this book. Does it only matter to people that it's a radical polemic for liberating women, and not that it's mostly incoherent and contradictory? I am not against inspiring a revolt that is justified in the very least by benefiting those who revolt, but for me this book proposes no clear aim or result but onl I read The Cyborg Manifesto and found it long, convoluted, contradictory and so abstract that I questioned the practical use of it. I am really surprised and suspicious of the popularity of this book. Does it only matter to people that it's a radical polemic for liberating women, and not that it's mostly incoherent and contradictory? I am not against inspiring a revolt that is justified in the very least by benefiting those who revolt, but for me this book proposes no clear aim or result but only to disengage with society. My understanding of the Cyborg Manifesto was: 1. Past feminist theories have been too sure of representing one woman's experience as the collective woman's experience. 2. Past feminist theories have not escaped patriarchal or other forms of societal institution oppression due to the fact that they hold beliefs to the female sex, a binary system. 3. Therefore, if women became more like the cyborg by first removing binary sex/gender distinctions from their identity and associated objects, and second by removing the belief that their individual experience correlates with their biological makeup, then this will liberate more people from societal oppression. 4. Instead cyborgs should act on affinity (as in, desire) rather than identity (as in social labels of gender/class/race). ---- The review by the The International Journal of Primatology on Haraway's Primate Visions is a better articulated version of how I feel when reading or listening to anything by Donna Haraway: https://link.springer.com/article/10....

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Such a comprehensive exploration of the current position of women and feminism in all its permutations, Haraway argues that we move away from dualism, which can only compound the notion of woman as defined by what-man-is-not or by what-man-desires. Instead, she argues for liminality, for acknowledgement of the leaky boundaries in which women can establish themselves simply as. This also allows space for even more marginalised groups of women - non-white, non-English speaking, post-colonial. In a Such a comprehensive exploration of the current position of women and feminism in all its permutations, Haraway argues that we move away from dualism, which can only compound the notion of woman as defined by what-man-is-not or by what-man-desires. Instead, she argues for liminality, for acknowledgement of the leaky boundaries in which women can establish themselves simply as. This also allows space for even more marginalised groups of women - non-white, non-English speaking, post-colonial. In a world where technology is challenging key concepts such as labour, work and economics, Haraway argues for women to occupy the spaces hollowed out by this redefinition, to combine their multiplicities in order to exert power over new definitions and therefore over what they are, rather than what they are not.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    It took me a while to read this. Had to make myself sit down every day to painfully read 10 pages a day. Donna Harraway speaks academese, the sentences need to be read carefully and thoroughly chewed before swallowing. Maybe not for everybody. But, once I did manage to immerse myself in the texts, the depth and richness and brilliance of her analysis emerged, and it was amazing to see how far she can take the reader along the feminist path with insights on sociobiology, the body, gender, narrati It took me a while to read this. Had to make myself sit down every day to painfully read 10 pages a day. Donna Harraway speaks academese, the sentences need to be read carefully and thoroughly chewed before swallowing. Maybe not for everybody. But, once I did manage to immerse myself in the texts, the depth and richness and brilliance of her analysis emerged, and it was amazing to see how far she can take the reader along the feminist path with insights on sociobiology, the body, gender, narratives, knowledge and objectivity, the economy, among others. Patience, openness and concentration is required.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    I'm essentially on board with Haraway, ideologically speaking. But like so much theory, her actual ideas are hidden under inaccessible prose and jargon which makes it a pain to read, most of the time. Still, recommended if you like feminism and also have a science background, I think the lack of the latter prevented me from getting as much out of this as I would otherwise.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Itai Farhi

    Will continue to read and return to this, wanted to leave a few notes after a reading of the manifesto. 99% of this book is excellent, and the remaining bits in no way detract from the correctness of her position. Her distaste for phallogocentrism is indeed thoroughly justified, as is the xeno-feminist contamination of the boundary Haraway preserves between mythos and logos.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nan

    This book is fascinating. I'm still thinking about cyborgs, their rebelliousness, their freedom, their liquidity and their social impact. This helped me so much with my research. I highly recommend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lance Grabmiller

    An evolution in the thought of Donna Haraway from the late 1970s through the late 1980s in the form of collected essays. Vast and extraordinary.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Miguel

    Reading this Haraway collection as a cultural studies person, I must confess: the first 5 chapters were not of much use to me. In a sense, much of the valuable intellectual work Haraway does in those early chapters is revisited in the collection's 10th essay, "The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies." I don't want to malign Haraway's tremendous and valuable reading of primatology and the biological sciences at large but for cultural/literary studies people, the reading experience of those early 5 c Reading this Haraway collection as a cultural studies person, I must confess: the first 5 chapters were not of much use to me. In a sense, much of the valuable intellectual work Haraway does in those early chapters is revisited in the collection's 10th essay, "The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies." I don't want to malign Haraway's tremendous and valuable reading of primatology and the biological sciences at large but for cultural/literary studies people, the reading experience of those early 5 chapters can only be described as unpleasant. Haraway models a phenomenal attention to particularity and bolsters her points with copious examples of disavowed interest in supposedly objective scientific studies. However, the rubber only really hit the road for me as a reader in the 6th chapter, "Reading Buchi Emecheta." As the name would indicate, here readers can expect some good old-fashioned literary criticism. But Haraway's recognizable and utterly brilliant paradigm shifting and redefining work really starts to appear in "'Gender' for a Marxist Dictionary." If the 6th chapter is a thoroughly enjoyable read, the remaining four are incomparable delights. "'Gender' for a Marxist Dictionary," in particular, is essential reading for every person interested in the intellectual practice of feminism. My notes are concentrated in this chapter, and for good reason. Although Haraway sets out to define, her subtextual polemic is evident in what she emphasizes and deemphaizes in defining 'gender.' Haraway addresses egregious misreadings of Judith Butler, the failings of liberal discourse, the possibility of the sex/gender dichotomy's tactical value shortchanging theoretical advancements, and calls into question the notion of 'the death of the subject." Her ability to engage in historical analysis without trite historicizing and her attention to particularity without sliding into relativism are, in a word, wonderful. I can only describe the experience of reading "'Gender' for a Marxist Dictionary" as that of remembering a word that has been stuck on the tip of your tongue. That inarticulate satisfaction permeates this essay, and much of Haraway's work at large, because of the fact that she leaves no assumption uninterrogated. But this is no "spray and pray" strategy of discourse and interrogation, Haraway knows how to ask precisely the right questions, allude to the right authors, and make explicit the understated assumptions of any given mode of thought. "A Cyborg Manifesto" is also essential reading for reframing questions of feminism and considering some of Haraway's comrades, such as Sylvia Wynter. "Situated Knowledges" iterates on many of the ideas in "A Cyborg Manifesto" and includes some of Haraway's most pithy quotes, such as "Vision in this technological feast becomes unregulated gluttony; all perspective gives way to infinitely mobile vision... And like the god-trick, this eye fucks the world to make techno monsters." You won't find an articulation like that in this collection's earlier chapters. Haraway's intellectual legacy is one that cuts through any inherited common knowledge or sense. Haraway herself and many thinkers who cite her offer an immediate restructuring of the order of things.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Haraway is an at times painfully obtuse writer, and that carries through to a lot of her theories, which I would call suspect. Not having enough background in zoology or ethology to argue with her, I can't call bullshit, but my bullshit radar is definitely start to tick... But when she writes about the notion of the cyborg, she becomes a lot more interesting. Her point that the line between social and physical sciences has become irrelevant would certainly ring true with a lot of scientific-think Haraway is an at times painfully obtuse writer, and that carries through to a lot of her theories, which I would call suspect. Not having enough background in zoology or ethology to argue with her, I can't call bullshit, but my bullshit radar is definitely start to tick... But when she writes about the notion of the cyborg, she becomes a lot more interesting. Her point that the line between social and physical sciences has become irrelevant would certainly ring true with a lot of scientific-thinking folks who would call shenanigans on her whole enterprise. And so would her statement that the line between biology and machine. I'm not sure to what extent I agree with her theories. For instance, she seems to prioritize language over material in a rather unsettling way, especially for someone who seems to care so much about forging a true material scientific discourse. Similarly, while I strongly agree that science is a function of metaphor and community, she spins it in this weird way that seems to fall back into radical relativism, despite Haraway's claims to the contrary. The contradictions are problematic enough that they cast a shadow over the entire text.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pippi Bluestocking

    Most reviews here show how much people love this book. Yes, it's quite difficult and it needs extensive knowledge of many disciplines and philosophies. It needs to be read and re-read. It needs a teacher or a guide to unlock the toughest parts for you. But it's the most inspiring, imaginative academic text you will ever read; its insight is incomparable; it's still very, very accurate even though it was published two decades ago. It's absolutely amazing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    What did I learn from this book? More than I can sum up in this text box! Although dated (published in 1991), this book contains a plethora of ideas still relevant and important. I'll be using it mainly for its discussion of scientific objectivity, but anyone interested in questions of gender should also read this.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pony

    haraway knows how to navigate the very fine line between utterly brilliant and utterly crazy, usually remaining, of course, on the utterly brilliant side of things. absolutely impressive, creative, playful theory.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Read and currently re-reading. You're probably best off checking Google Scholar for reviews, but her "Cyborg Manifesto" is one of the foundations of my thesis, and also kindled a hugely geekish obsession with cyborgs.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vanora

    Controversial in its time, Donna Haraway's Cyborg's feminist ontological discourse still inspires, challenges and invokes current discussions on the ways of the 'other' and our relationships towards man/animal/machine. Cool read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    favorite piece in this collection: "Situated Knowledges"

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