Blog post

Haraway's 'Manifesto for Cyborgs' at 30

McKenzie Wark24 February 2015

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It is 30 years since Donna Haraway published the first version of her 'Manifesto for Cyborgs'. It still makes for extraordinary reading. It anticipates many of the concerns of our own time, from the link between technology and militarized surveillance to the rise of precarious labor, which Haraway called the 'homework economy.' And certainly, in the popular imagination of science fiction, the cyborg figure has not gone away, even if most popular narratives are less then enabling. Alex Rivera's Sleep Dealer (2008) is an honorable exception. Better to think through the 'ironic political myth' that Haraway constructed. In Molecular Red (forthcoming from Verso) I make the case that Haraway is not only an enduring feminist and science studies thinker, but also a Marxist one. Below is a sample from a later version of the 'Manifesto for Cyborgs'. Here is a link to the rest

"Contemporary science fiction is full of cyborgs — creatures simultaneously animal and machine, who populate worlds ambiguously natural and crafted. Modern medicine is also full of cyborgs, of couplings between organism and machine, each conceived as coded devices, in an intimacy and with a power that was not generated in the history of sexuality. Cyborg 'sex' restores some of the lovely replicative baroque of ferns and invertebrates (such nice organic prophylactics against heterosexism). Cyborg replication is uncoupled from organic reproduction. Modern production seems like a dream of cyborg colonization work, a dream that makes the nightmare of Taylorism seem idyllic. And modern war is a cyborg orgy, coded by C3I, command-control-communication-intelligence, an $84 billion item in 1984's US defence budget. I am making an argument for the cyborg as a fiction mapping our social and bodily reality and as an imaginative resource suggesting some very fruitful couplings. Michael Foucault's biopolitics is a flaccid premonition of cyborg politics, a very open field."

Filed under: feminism, futurelater, haraway, technology