A Cyborg Précis

Summarizing Donna Haraway’s main points from “A Cyborg Manifesto.”


I thought that summarizing Haraway’s main points in each section of her “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” would be helpful for many trying to get their heads around this challenging but important essay. Of course, these are how I interpret these sections at this time. My view of this piece has changed over time, but here’s how I currently see this important work. You milage may vary. Additions are welcome as comments and links.

I. “An Ironic Dream”

To construct an ironic myth of opposition based not on identity, but on affinity. This cyborg lives in between the borders of postmodernism decenteredness and Enlightenment hierarchical dualism; it is a hybrid figuration comfortable with contradiction that cannot resolved into a whole.

II. “Fractured Identities”

“Feminism” cannot, or should not, attempt to be a holistic representation of the female identity, but should instead construct lines of affinity that allow for opposition of totalizing ideologies and narratives — not from an -ism standpoint, but from a “constructed revolutionary subject” linked through choice.

III. “Informatics of Domination”

A possible area of unity (affinity) by which to construct a political position begins by looking at “scary new networks” that view properties as constructed, not natural or essential. This perspective translates the world into a problem of coding, the search for a common language, or code, that can be submitted for recording, disassembly, and exchange. This communication relies on electronics to mediate structured relations between people by providing fresh sources for analysis and political action.

IV. “The Homework Economy”

Breaking the boundaries of home (private — women) / work (public — men) while also addressing the work often ascribed to women. Factory, home, market are integrated on a new scale by new technologies, putting men out of work, strengthening mobility and private spaces, and restructuring imagination.

V. “Women in the Integrated Circuit”

The notion/reality of the network does little to help the position of women in idealized social locations, like Home, Market, State, School, etc. However, the network makes it possible to cross these boundaries to form new kinds of unities away from dreams of a perfectly true language: to learn how not to be a man.

VI. “Cyborgs: A Myth of Political Identity”

Powerful possibilities exist in erasing the language to recode communication and intelligence in order to subvert command and control. The “play of writing” has no privileged position, no final interpretation. Cyborg imagery challenges the stories of the universe and allows new boundaries to be constructed that communicate with all our parts: “a powerful infidel heteroglossia.”