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Primates and Cyborgs

Amanda Rees

Subject Sociology » Science and Technology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Where the figures of the primate and the cyborg appear together, they are ineradicably associated with the work of the American historian of consciousness Donna Haraway. Representing utterly different clusters of form, meanings, and demonstrations, the two images share at least one distinct function: they are literally littoral figures, to be found on the category edges, both enacting and transgressing the boundary between nature and culture, body and machine, human and animal. But their significance is not merely to be found in their presentation as a persistent reproach to the philosophical dualisms that have characterized western culture. Both figures invoke politics as well as philosophy, exhibiting and intimating the ways in which politics is implicit in one's philosophical position, and one's political philosophy represents the active choice and creation of a sense of social and cultural identity. In some ways, the primate and the cyborg represent opposite ends of the range of Haraway's understanding of the thematic and practical possibilities for humanity's imagined future, and as such, a consideration of layered meanings that underlie these iconic emblems can be used as a means of accessing and interrogating her wider theoretical project. The figure of the cyborg came to wider public notice in the “Manifesto for Cyborgs,” which appeared in the Socialist Review in 1985. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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