A Cyborg Manifesto, by Donna Haraway

A Cyborg Manifesto, 1985

 

Donna Haraway’s essay is an attempt to break away from Oedipal narratives and Christian origin doctrines like Genesis; the concept of the cyborg is a rejection of rigid boundaries, notably those separating “human” from “animal” and “human” from “machine.” In A Cyborg Manifesto, she writes: “The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust.”[2]

She uses the metaphor of a cyborg to urge feminists to move beyond the limitations of traditional gender, feminism, and politics.[2] Marisa Olson summarized Haraway’s thoughts as a belief that there is no distinction between natural life and artificial man-made machines.[3]

Haraway calls for a revision of the concept of gender, moving away from Western patriarchal essentialism and toward “the utopian dream of the hope for a monstrous world without gender,” stating that “Cyborgs might consider more seriously the partial, fluid, sometimes aspect of sex and sexual embodiment. Gender might not be global identity after all, even if it has profound historical breadth and depth.”[2]

Haraway takes issue with some traditional feminists who seek to place women above men, reflected in statements describing how “women more than men somehow sustain daily life, and so have a privileged epistemological position potentially.” The views of traditional feminism operate under the totalizing assumptions that all men are one way, and women another, whereas “a cyborg theory of wholes and parts,” does not desire to explain things in total theory.

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