In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, Harway explained that the cyborg is "a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction" (149). And in her 1997 book she repeats that definition and proposes a cyborg anthrology to study border relations between the two: "The cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a fusion of the organic and the technical forged in particular, historical, cultural practices. Cyborgs are not about the Machine and the Human, as if such Things and Subjects universally existed" (51).

Haraway proposes what she terms a "cyborg anthropology" to study the relation between the machine and the human, and she adds that it should proceed by "provocatively" reconceiving "the border relations among specific humans, other organisms, and machines" (52). One result of unexpected result of such a provocative approach is the recognition that attempts to establish binary oppositions between human and machine, people and technology, has disturbing parallels with racism:

The history and current politics of racial and immigration discourses in Europe and the United States ought to set off acute anxiety in the presence of these supposedly high ethical and ontological themes. I cannot help but hear in the biotechnology debates the unintended tones of fear of the alien and suspicion of the mixed. In the appeal to intrinsic natures, I hear a mystification of kind and purity akin to the doctrines of white racial hegemony and U.S. national integrity and purpose that so permeate North American culture and history. I know that this appeal to sustain other organisms' inviolable, intrinsic natures is intended to affirm their difference from humanity and their claim on lives lived on their terms and not "man's." The appeal aims to limit turning all the world into a resource for human appropriation. But it is a problematic argument resting on unconvincing biology. History is erased, for other organisms as well as for humans, in the doctrine of types and intrinsic purposes, and a kind of timeless stasis in nature is piously narrated. The ancient, cobbled-together, mixed-up history of living beings, whose long tradition of genetic exchange will be the envy of industry for a long time to come, gets short shrift. [60]

In the cyberpunk science fiction , anime , and cinema considered in English 111 , what examples have you found of what Haraway terms "the western theme of purity of type, natural purposes, and transgression of sacred boundaries"?

[Follow for a classification of cyborg entities.]


Donna J. Haraway. Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium. FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. New York and London: Routledge, 1997.

Donna J. Haraway. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge, 1991.