Note — Nov 10, 2019

Donna Haraway on Truth, Technology, and Resisting Extinction

Long read at Logic mag, an interview with Donna Haraway, which starts with a biographical section on where she lived, studied, taught, how her thinking evolved, and some of the philosophical battles fought. Then goes into some of her most important works like the Cyborg Manifesto, how her views have evolved, her new focus on environmental issues, her view of techno-utopianism and Stewart Brand (“They are not friends. They are not allies.”), and on the Anthropocene framework.

For someone not trained in any of the fields she has worked on, some of the biographical part needs some Googling DuckDuckGoIng to properly grok, but the second half gives directions and keys to better understand pretty much everything I include in the featured articles in Sentiers. So yeah, do read it and I’m putting it in a file somewhere as a starting point for more research. (There’s a bunch of quotes below, I probably highlighted three times as many. Btw, I linked to an excerpted version of this back in June, the full version is much better.)

[On being asked, “but do you believe in reality?”] We were both kind of shocked by the question. First, we were shocked that it was a question of belief, which is a Protestant question. A confessional question. The idea that reality is a question of belief is a barely secularized legacy of the religious wars. In fact, reality is a matter of worlding and inhabiting. It is a matter of testing the holding-ness of things. Do things hold or not? […]

[W]e have the ongoing enclosure of the commons. Capitalism produces new forms of value and then encloses those forms of value—the digital is an especially good example of that. This involves the monetization of practically everything we do. And it’s not like we are ignorant of this dynamic. We know what’s going on. We just don’t have a clue how to get a grip on it. […]

In a moment of ecological urgency, I’m more engaged in questions of multispecies environmental and reproductive justice. Those questions certainly involve issues of digital and robotic and machine cultures, but they aren’t at the center of my attention. […]

Those communities may need other kinds of technologies than those promised by the techno-fix: different kinds of mortgage instruments, say, or re-engineered water systems. I’m against the kind of techno-fixes that are abstracted from place and tied up with huge amounts of technocapital. This seems to include most geoengineering projects and imaginations. […]

The kinds of conversations around technology that I think we need are those among folks who know how to write law and policy, folks who know how to do material science, folks who are interested in architecture and park design, and folks who are involved in land struggles and solidarity movements. I want to see us do much savvier scientific, technological, and political thinking with each other, and I want to see it get press. The Stewart Brand types are never going there. […]

[On the Anthropocene.] Extractivism and exterminationism are not human species acts. They come from a situated historical conjuncture of about five hundred years in duration that begins with the invention of the plantation and the subsequent modeling of industrial capitalism. It is a situated historical conjuncture that has had devastating effects even while it has created astonishing wealth.