Donna Haraway
Deer walk donna crop antlers web
Born 1944

Denver, Colorado

Relevant Work A Cyborg Manifesto


(NATC, 2nd ed.)

Biography Edit

  • Donna Haraway was born in Denver, Colorado, on September 6, 1944  
  • In 1966, she received bachelor's degrees in zoology, philosophy, and literature from Colorado College  
  • After college, she studied philosophies of evolution and theology for a year in Paris. In 1972, she completed her Ph.D. in biology at Yale University  
  • Haraway is a distinguished professor in the History of Consciousness Department and Feminist Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has taught several courses on Women's Studies and the History of Science as a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii and Johns Hopkins University.  
  • Aside from teaching at UC Santa Cruz, she is also an affiliated faculty member in the Women's Studies, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies Boards at the university, as well as a professor of feminist theory and technosciences in the Media and Communications Program at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.  
  • Haraway's works have contributed to the study and ethical conversation regarding human-machine and human animal relationships, sparking debates within the fields of philosophy, primatology, and developmental biology.  

A Cyborg Manifesto Edit

Background and Historical Context Edit

In A Cyborg Manifesto, Haraway highlights the problematic use and justification of Western traditions like patriarchy, colonialism, essentialism, and naturalism (among others). These traditions in turn allow for the problematic formations of taxonomies (and identifications of the Other) and what Haraway explains as "antagonistic dualisms" that order Western discourse. These dualisms, Haraway states, "have all been systematic to the logics and practices of domination of women, people of color, nature, workers, animals... all [those] constituted as others." She highlights specific problematic dualisms of self/other, culture/nature, male/female, civilized/primitive, right/wrong, truth/illusion, total/partial, God/man (among others). She explains that these dualisms are in competition with one another, creating paradoxical relations of domination (especially between the One and the Other). However, high-tech culture provides a challenge to these antagonistic dualisms.

"The cyborg icon is liberation for ideology by embracing technology and avoiding characterization. Haraway is exploring the borders between human and machine, physical and nonphysical, human and animal. Rather than constructing another icon/myth of the scientist/social feminist as something essentially human, Haraway embraces the relevance of technology and invents the cyborg as the new icon for the social feminist since technology is already a part of what it means to be human" (enotes).

Key Words and Terms Edit

Affinity group: a group of people linked by a common interest or purpose.

Chimeras: (ref. NATC pg 2191/2nd paragraph first sentence).

  1. capitalized :  a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail b :  an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts
  2. an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially :  an unrealizable dream (

Cyberfeminism: a new wave of feminist theory and practice that seeks to reclaim techno-science.

Cyborg: "A creature in a post-gender world; it has no track with bisexuality, pre-Oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labor, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity" (2191); A "hybrid of machine and organism" that is a metaphor for the "'disassembled and reassembled, post-modern collective and personal self' of contemporary cultural theory suited to the West's late capitalist social order" (2187).

Dualism: (from the Latin word duo, meaning "two") denotes the state of two parts. The term dualism was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been more generalized in other usages to indicate a system which contains two essential parts.

Holism: (from Greek ὅλος holos, meaning "all, whole, entire") is the idea that systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts. This often includes the view that systems function as wholes and that their functioning cannot be fully understood solely in terms of their component parts. (Wikipedia).

Homework Economy: the restructuring of feminization of the workplace.

Manifesto: A published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party, or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus and/or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual's life stance. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. (Wikipedia).

Key Quotations Edit

"In a sense, the cyborg has no origin story in the western sense—a ‘final’ irony since the cyborg is also the awful apocalyptic telos of the ‘West’s’ escalating dominations of abstract individuation, an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency, a man in space" (Norton 2191).

"The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential" (Norton 2192).

"The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust...that is why I want to see if cyborgs can subvert the apocalypse of returning to nuclear dust in the manic compulsion to name the Enemy. Cyborgs are not reverent; they do not re-member the cosmos. They are wary of holsim, but needy for connection..." (Norton 2192).

"Movements for animal rights are not irrational denials of human uniqueness; they are clear-sighted recognition of connection across the discredited breach of nature and culture" (Norton 2192).

"Biology and evolutionary theory over the last two centuries have simultaneously produced modern organisms as objects of knowledge and reduced the line between humans and animals to a faint trace re-etched in ideological struggle or professional disputes between life and social sciences. Within this framework, teaching modern Christian creationism should be fought as a form of child abuse" (Norton 2193).

"Gender, race, or class consciousness is an achievement forced on us by the terrible historical experience of the contradictory social realities of patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism. And who counts as 'us' in my own rhetoric?" (Norton 2196).

"As orientalism is deconstructed politically and semiotically, the identities of the occident destabilize, including those of feminists" (Norton 2198).

"I do not know of any other time in history when there was greater need for political unity to confront effectively the dominations of 'race,' 'gender,' 'sexuality,' and 'class'" (Norton 2199).

Discussion Edit

Irony Edit

Haraway explains that the metaphor of the cyborg and everything that it encompasses is full of irony. Her article itself is rather ironic as well because she describes the cyborg, "creatures simultaneously animal and machine," almost negatively while at the time describing the importance of the nature of cyborgs to survive because they have the ability to stop seeing the world as a fight between dualisms (i.e. man and woman etc.)(Norton 2190). She even ends "A Manifesto for Cyborgs" by stating, "Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess" (Norton 2220). Haraway is concerned with moving away from ideas of various dualisms—the most important being gender and identity—that give boundaries and constrictions; her metaphor of the cyborg is meant to show this because the cyborg's identity is fluid and ever-changing with a focus on science and technology rather than focusing on nature and sex themselves.

Affinity, not Identity Edit

Haraway contributes to the feminist political fiction analysis by affirming some form of affinity, not identity. She starts by breaking down the problematic idea of identity, pointing out the problem of categorization. There is no “identity” or female-ness that naturally binds women (2196). Haraway argues for affinity instead but is careful of the downfalls of a totalizing bind. To create affinity, generalizations have been created to make the “women’s experience.” This itself is problematic as this categorization is an attempt to “taxonomize the women’s movement to make one’s own political tendencies appear to be the telos of the whole” (2198). For example, women of color can’t act on behalf of their individual experiences but only on behalf of the “women of color” affinity or political kinship (2197). In socialist feminism, it is rooted in labor and class structure issues that unites women. In radical feminism, it constructs a “non-subject, a non-being” (2201). The origin of “women’s experience” is the objectification, another person’s desire. This ontology is totalizing and “obliterates the authority of any other women’s political speech and action” (2201).

Major Criticism and Reception Edit

Haraway's view takes issue with some traditional feminists who seek to place women above men. The views of traditional feminism operate under the totalizing assumptions that all men are one way and women another. Haraway suggests that feminists should move beyond naturalism and essentialism, criticizing feminist tactics as "identity politics" that victimize those excluded; instead, she proposes that it is better strategically to confuse identities.

Related Works Edit

  • Braidotti, Rosi: "Animals, Anomalies, and Inorganic Others."
  • Butler, Judith. "Gender Trouble"
  • De Pizan, Christine. "Christine's Reaction to Jean de Montreuil's Treatise on the Roman de la Rose."
  • Fanon, Frantz. "The Wretched of the Earth: from on National Culture."
  • Foucault, Michel. "A History of Sexuality."
  • Freud, Sigmund. "Beyond the Pleasure Principle."
  • Gilbert & Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic.
  • Haraway, Donna. Manifestly Haraway (Posthumanism)Minnesota: Univesity of Minnesota Press (2016).
  • Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (1991)
  • Haraway, Donna. Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective
  • Hayles, N. Katherine. "How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine."
  • Hayley, N. Kathrine. "How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics."
  • Marx, Karl. "Capital. Volume I."
  • Moraga, Cherrie L. Loving in the War Years.
  • Resonance Audio. "Cyborg Manifesto - AudioZine Pt 1" and "Cyborg Manifesto - AudioZine Pt 2."
  • Said, Edward. Orientalism.
  • Wolfe, Cary. "Human, All Too Human: “Animal Studies” and the Humanities."


GITS 2- Haraway on anthropomorphization

GITS 2- Haraway on anthropomorphization

Haraway's name and likeness were used in the 2004 animated film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. The character serves as a mouthpiece for the film to make commentary on the nature of anthropomorphism. In a scene structured like a Platonic dialogue, the character makes several references to A Cyborg Manifesto.

References Edit

  • Leitch, Vincent B., editor. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed., W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.