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Sunshine and Shroud: Cyborg Bodies and the Collective and Personal Self
Margaret Morse


I. Writing Cyborgs: Invoking Monsters

Donna Haraway’s «The Cyborg Manifesto» (1985) does not invoke a mix of flesh, electronics and steel, nor does it espouse a war of humanity against the machines [1] . Haraway’s cyborg is oppositional, part of a «double vision» (154), that creates a counterpart to and negation of cyborg bodies like the anti-hero of «The Terminator» (1984). She poses the cyborg as a mythic figure and tool of thought, an ironic intervention that shifts existing relations among society, science and technology through an act of declaration. Haraway’s cyborg bodies are «maps of power and identity» (180) that writing transforms from grid-locked exponents of global post-industrial society and the «informatics of domination» (161ff.) into liminal and mobile creatures at the boundaries between animal, human and machine and between the physical and nonphysical. As the word «Manifesto» suggests, this is an enunciative move in which language changes the world not in trivial ways, but «in a struggle for life and death» (149): «In the fraying of identities and the reflexive strategies for constructing them, the possibility opens up for weaving something other than a


shroud for the day after the apocalypse that so prophetically ends salvation history». (158) Haraway is explicitly against total makeovers or finding the answer that will make us whole, all at once. Her project is less grandiose, «embracing the skilful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all our parts». (181) She calls this task «writing» [2] —but writing alone does not capture the act of imagining and nominating that is at stake. Art is also capable of and at times even more effective at making such declarations with this difference: The tools of technological and new media art forms are intimately related to the «technics of domination» making «remapping» appear all the more difficult and complex.

We know this: not only does Haraway reconstruct the cyborg body, her cyborg is a writer. Throughout the process of the essay «Cyborg Manifesto», Haraway nominates cyborgs: herself, Sister Others, i.e. women of color, and a crew of women who are science fiction writers. Sister Other is a point of fracture in gender, work and family under the stresses of globalization. If we are to take Haraway seriously, what Sister Other

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