Literary and Critical Theory Donna J. Haraway
by
M. Anjum Khan
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0128

Introduction

Donna J. Haraway is a feminist scholar and cultural critic known for her contributions to the fields of science and technology studies, feminist theory, and animal studies. She was born in 1944 in Denver, Colorado, and received her PhD in biology at Yale University. Haraway’s work is characterized by its critical and interdisciplinary approach, drawing on a variety of academic disciplines including science, philosophy, and cultural studies. She is best known for her seminal essay “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” (1985), which provides a new way of thinking about the relationships between humans, technology, and nature. This essay is considered a cornerstone of feminist theory, and has a significant impact on the understanding of gender, identity, and technology. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (1991): In this collection of essays, Haraway explores the relationships between science, technology, and nature, and provides a feminist critique of these relationships. Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan©_Meets_OncoMouse™: Feminism and Technoscience (1997): In this book, Haraway examines the intersection of science, technology, and feminist theory, and provides a critique of the ways in which gender and other social identities shape our relationship to technology. Haraway is also known for her contributions to the field of animal studies. Her book The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness (2003) explores the complex relationships between humans and dogs, and provides new insights into the ways in which humans and animals can form meaningful relationships with one another. Haraway 2004 (cited under General Overview) collects some of Haraway’s most influential essays and articles, and provides an overview of her work to date. When Species Meet (2008): In this book, Haraway reflects on the relationships between humans and other animals, and explores the cultural, social, and political implications of these relationships. In Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (2016), Haraway offers a vision of a new kind of political and ethical framework that she calls the “Chthulucene,” which emphasizes the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of making “kin” across species lines. Manifestly Haraway (2016) by Haraway and Wolfe combines “Cyborg Manifesto” and “Companion Species Manifesto,” includes a conversation, and proposes a feminist “Chthulucene Manifesto” to challenge the dominant narratives of Anthropocene and Capitalocene, while Beyond the Cyborg: Adventures with Donna Haraway (2013) by Grebowicz, Merrick, and Haraway explores her latest work on companion species and impact on feminist theory and philosophy. Haraway, a UC Santa Cruz professor since 1991, is a distinguished emerita in the History of Consciousness Department. Although Haraway’s work is influential in academic circles, it faces criticism for being difficult to understand and abstract, potentially hindering accessibility. Scholars argue that her emphasis on blurring human/nonhuman boundaries could undermine human rights and social justice. Nonetheless, Haraway’s work is widely studied and debated in various academic fields.

General Overview

Donna J. Haraway is a prominent scholar and writer whose work challenges binary thinking in society. Her early work, influenced by socialist feminist thought, used Marxist categories to analyze gender relations and women’s status (Wirth-Cauchon 2011). Haraway’s writing has gained widespread recognition and sparked much discussion among scholars and students (Rees 2007), characterized by the interweaving of academic, popular, and commercial perspectives (Young 1992). Considered a trailblazer in feminist theory, Haraway is credited with revolutionizing our understanding of technology, gender, and identity (Holdstein 1999). Her “Cyborg Manifesto” is widely regarded as a classic in feminist theory and continues to shape contemporary debates on the intersection of technology and gender (Soper 1999). More recently, Haraway has shifted her focus from ontology to ethics, and from cyborgs to companion species (Kompatsiaris 2022). See also Beyond the Cyborg: Adventures with Donna Haraway (2013) by Grebowicz, Merrick, and Haraway. Haraway’s work on animality has been highly influential in animal studies, prompting rethinking of the relationship between humans and animals (Rae 2014). Her writing style is often praised for its accessibility and ability to convey complex concepts through vivid storytelling (Jamison and Haraway 1992). However, her ideas on cyborgs and technology have faced criticism, with some arguing that they are overly optimistic and fail to address real-world implications (Haraway 2015). Others have challenged her ideas on animal studies and the intersection of gender, race, and ecology as speculative and lacking a clear political agenda (Franklin 2017).

  • Franklin, Sarah. “Staying with the Manifesto: An Interview with Donna Haraway.” Theory, Culture & Society 34.4 (2017): 49–63.

    DOI: 10.1177/0263276417693290

    This interview with feminist science studies scholar Sarah Franklin provides a comprehensive examination of Donna Haraway’s work and ideas. Franklin engages in a deep exploration of the key concepts and themes in Haraway’s writing, taking a retrospective look at some of her early work and delving into the themes in her latest book, Staying with the Trouble. The author provides valuable insights into Haraway’s contributions to feminist science studies and the lasting impact of her ideas.

  • Haraway, Donna. The Haraway Reader. New York: Routledge, 2004.

    This book is a compilation of works by Donna Haraway, featuring her famous piece “A Cyborg Manifesto.” It brings together significant portions from Haraway’s major books including Primate Visions, Modest Witness . . . , Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, and more recent works on animal studies. This book provides a comprehensive overview of Haraway’s thoughts and is highly recommended for individuals interested in her work.

  • Haraway, Donna. “A Curious Practice.” Angelaki 20.2 (2015): 5–14.

    DOI: 10.1080/0969725X.2015.1039817

    The author’s perspective and beliefs are evident in this source. She argues that the primary and most significant product of Despret’s methodology is a mindset that presumes that living beings have innate characteristics and capacities that are simply activated in an encounter.

  • Holdstein, Deborah H. “Rhetorics of (Disin)genuousness: Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature.” Computers and Composition 16.1 (1999): 191–196.

    DOI: 10.1016/S8755-4615(99)80016-4

    This article is relevant for those interested in the fields of science studies, rhetoric, and composition. The author explores the idea of (dis)ingenuousness and how it applies to the relationship between simians, cyborgs, and women. The article draws upon multiple disciplines to offer a unique perspective on the subject and provides an in-depth analysis of the interdisciplinary approach in science studies. The use of interdisciplinary techniques is demonstrated to be effective in providing a comprehensive understanding of complex subjects.

  • Jamison, P. K., and Donna Haraway. “No Eden under Glass: A Discussion with Donna Haraway.” Feminist Teacher 6.2 (1992): 10–15.

    This discussion provides insight into Donna Haraway’s views on the significance of meaningful and thoughtful projects in technology and science. The author asserts that it is crucial to disrupt the distinction between humans and nonhumans, nature and culture, and science and technology in order to truly understand the world. This discussion is a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding the importance of language and interdisciplinary approaches in technology and science.

  • Kompatsiaris, Panos. “Companion Species and Comrades: A Critique of ‘Plural Relating’ in Donna Haraway’s Theory Manifestos.” Culture, Theory and Critique (2022): 1–15.

    DOI: 10.1080/14735784.2022.2122527

    The paper presents a thorough analysis of Haraway’s manifesto writing, offering valuable insights into her ethical principles and the relationships between humans and nonhuman entities. It is a valuable resource for those interested in the intersection of ethics, technology, and the environment.

  • Rae, Gavin. “The Philosophical Roots of Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Imagery: Descartes and Heidegger through Latour, Derrida, and Agamben.” Human Studies 37.4 (2014): 505–528.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10746-014-9327-z

    This paper provides valuable insight into the philosophical foundations of Haraway’s ideas and their connections to the broader philosophical tradition. It offers a clear and well-argued perspective on the influences on Haraway’s work and provides a useful background for those looking to understand her ideas in depth. It suggests that Haraway’s ideas are influenced by Heidegger’s critique of metaphysical anthropocentrism and an attempt to deconstruct the distinctions between human, animal, and machine that Descartes establishes in his Discourse on Method.

  • Rees, Amanda. “Donna Haraway Reader.” British Journal for the History of Science 40.1 (2007): 117–118.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0007087406239372

    This source is valuable in that it offers a critical perspective on Haraway’s work. It provides an insight into both the strengths and weaknesses of her book and authorship, which can aid in evaluating and gaining a deeper understanding of the subject. However, it should be noted that the author’s perspective may be biased, so it is important to consider other perspectives as well when forming an opinion on Haraway’s work.

  • Soper, Kate. “Of Oncomice And Femalemen: Donna Haraway On Cyborg Ontology.” Women: A Cultural Review 10.2 (1999): 167–172.

    DOI: 10.1080/09574049908578386

    The author critically examines biased perspectives in primatology and biological research, discussing topics such as orientalization of simians, racism, patriarchy, and profit-driven manipulation of nature. This source provides valuable insights into these complex issues and is recommended for readers interested in the intersection of primatology, biology, and social justice.

  • Wirth-Cauchon, Janet. “Donna Haraway the Person.” In The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists. Edited by George Ritzer and Jeffrey Stepniski, 500–519. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2011.

    Janet Wirth-Cauchon’s work, “An In-Depth Analysis of Donna Haraway,” provides a comprehensive evaluation of Haraway’s life and accomplishments. This source plays a crucial role in understanding Haraway’s body of work and offers valuable insights into her ideas and their impact on various fields. The author’s meticulous research and detailed analysis make this source a reliable and trustworthy evaluation of Haraway’s legacy. Overall, this work is an essential aspect of comprehending the significance of Haraway’s contributions to various fields.

  • Young, Robert M. “Science, Ideology and Donna Haraway.” Science as Culture 3.2 (1992): 165–207.

    DOI: 10.1080/09505439209526344

    This article offers a critical examination of Donna Haraway’s seminal work, Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science. The author highlights the substantial impact and relevance of Haraway’s work in the fields of gender, race, and nature in modern science and provides valuable insights into her ideas and contributions. The article serves as a valuable resource for scholars and researchers interested in the intersections of gender, race, and nature in the world of modern science.

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