The Podcast for Social Research, Episode 17: Reading Donna Haraway in the Anthropocene
The seventeenth episode of the Podcast for Social Research centers on recent work by Donna Haraway, whose newest intervention in the fields of feminist scholarship and science and technology studies is titled Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Danya and Ajay discuss anthropocene logics, the trajectory of Haraway’s Marxist feminism, anthropocentrism, detachable infrastructure, the politics of dieback fatalism, ethics at the level of the molecule, speculative fabulations, migratory subjectivity, human-butterfly hybrids, Navajo-Churro sheep, and the perennial Adorno on the shoulder.
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Danya’s note: Thinking about our conversation, I am also thinking about the politics of (im)purity that runs throughout Haraway’s work, which is very committed to not fetishizing an originary purity of any kind, biological or social. That’s another place where the “circuits” come in: she is concerned with the looping, hybridizing, cyborgian connections across boundaries of kind, class, and matter. Another book along these lines that I’m looking forward to reading is Alexis Shotwell’s Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times.
Ajay’s point about “the diaspora” as the basis of politics in this book is revealing here as well. Not only should we stop telling stories about science and technology that assume an originary purity of type or species, we should also stop telling stories that assume an origin point. In the twenty-first century, our times, a mythic time, we are all cyborg, and we are also all diaspora. I think this is a challenging politics to realize, because it undermines the politics of the post-Enlightenment nation-state, which assumes a stable population of like-minded and like-bodied individuals who are easy to follow through society. So this is another way into thinking about the real-world political challenges Haraway presents us with, here and elsewhere, concerning the question of how do you live well while staying with the trouble? How do you embrace a politics of impurity yet live ethically, in tough but fair “earth-wide projects of finite freedom, adequate material abundance, modest meaning in suffering, and limited happiness” (Haraway 1991, “Situated Knowledges”, in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, 187)? This is a politics of vision, and of envisioning, as well as of remembering, engineering, travelling and settling, producing and reproducing. It is, quite emphatically, a major political question of our time.
Ajay’s note: Mckenzie Wark’s Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene (linked below) thinks about and with Bogdanov quite productively. But this was also there in several other Soviets from scientists like Vladimir Verdanksy to Bukharin himself. Re: Bukharin please see Stephen Cohen’s Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution (also linked below).
And the Heidegger line I was thinking of is: “the world worlds” from this piece of perfect pseudo-mystical nonsense: “The world worlds, and is more fully in Being than the tangible and perceptible realm in which we believe ourselves at home” from “The Origin of the Work of Art.”
Technical Details: This episode of the Podcast for Social Research was recorded at The Workmen’s Circle on January 27th, 2017 (a short day in the long anthropocene) and edited by Susan Lee.