"I don't know the answer, but my mechanical claw does!"

Paul Meier '09, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Spring 2006)

In her A Cyborg Manifesto, Haraway reiterates many of her beliefs about identity and society's role in shaping perceptions and discriminations that have potential to hurt anyone considered "the Other":

To recapitulate, certain dualisms have been persistent in Western traditions; they have all been systemic to the logics and practices of domination of women, people of colour, nature, workers, animals — in short, domination of all constituted as others, whose task is to mirror the self. Chief among these troubling dualisms are self/other, mind/body, culture/nature, male/female, civilized/primitive, reality/appearance, whole/part, agent/resource, maker/made, active/passive, right/wrong, truth/illusion, total/partial, God/man. The self is the One who is not dominated, who knows that by the service of the other, the other is the one who holds the future, who knows that by the experience of domination, which gives the lie to the autonomy of the self. [177]

She next argues that technology, in particular cyborgs and other hybrids, can challenge these roles:

High-tech culture challenges these dualisms in intriguing ways. It is not clear who makes and who is made in relation between human and machine. It is not clear what is mind and what body in machines that resolve into coding practices. [177]

Although not readily apparent, each of the dualisms Haraway cites can be challenged with the idea of cyborgs and man/machine hybrids. Many are obvious (maker/made), but others, such as active/passive (even if you're not thinking, your clothes might be) go out to the very fringes of our perceptions and even the smallest details of our being.

1. Do you agree with Haraway's cited statements on society and the dualisms?

2. Supposing Haraway's assertions are true, who from our current society gains and loses in a more cyborg one?

3. Do you believe current society would work more towards keeping the current order, or embracing technology's (specifically, man/machine hybrids) potential to change identity perceptions and classification?

4. Haraway states that differences (and identification of differences) creates conflict, and causes one group to dominate another. Given the disparity of the world's wealth, would cyborg societies actually lessen conflict, given that they will likely emerge at such different rates?


Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York; Routledge, 1991. pp.149-181.

Course Website cyborg Body & Self

Last modified 23 November 2006