Saturday, April 26, 2008

Donna Haraway like McLuhan argues that technology is a natural extension of the human

Re: Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto (Carolyn Keen)
by Rich on Fri 25 Apr 2008 05:17 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Ned well I certainly agree with your statement here: "for every problem the Cyborg solves it's possible that it will create a new one because we can't predict all the possibilities of our new technologies"

As I read it Haraway's main critique is of the strategies of domination by patriarchal, imperialist and economic regimes through the fixing of essentialist organic identities upon women. On the one hand she is arguing against universalist claims that assimilate all feminine experience to one particular category of female identity, which constrains the ability of women to form other coalitions through affinities (e.g. women of color). In doing this she rejects the claim of archetypal feminine identity which the goddess represents. (Aside from the foundationalist difficulties one would have negotiating perspectives of spirituality in academic discourse this is perhaps why she does not add a metaphysical dimension here)

On the other hand the cyborg provides a certain liminal metaphor by which she can argue that even our most essentialist forms of identity, identity of the body with nature, are false and result in strategies of control, be it the mind over body, subject over object, male over female. Therefore, the cyborg is a rejection of these so called natural boundaries and a recognition that the human machine interface is not necessarily to be regarded as purely an artificial boundary. In a way she like McLuhan argues that technology is a natural extension of the human.

While the transcendence of natural boundaries may in some instances prove liberating - and although Haraway certainly recognizes other problems of domination associated with technology - she does not address the danger inherent in the crossing of boundaries through technological intervention, which Vandana Shiva in her book Stolen Harvest picks up on here:

“The mad cow as a product of boarder crossings is a cyborg in Donna Haraway's brand of cyborg feminism. According to Haraway I'd rather be a cyborg than a goddess. In India the cow is worshiped as Lakshmi because it is the source of renewal of the earth's fertility through organic manuring. The cow is sacred because it is at the heart of the sustainability of an agrarian civilization. The cow as goddess and cosmos symbolizes care, compassion, sustainability and equity. From the point of view of both cows and people, I would rather be a sacred cow than a mad one” (Shiva)

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