can the cyborg subvert the structure of desire, the force imagined to generate gender?

Haraway’s cyborg is a being who does not strive toward totality of theory, or ultimate all-encompassing explanation.

An article from Wired in 1997 says: 

Sociologists and academics from around the world have taken her lead and come to the same conclusion about themselves. In terms of the general shift from thinking of individuals as isolated from the “world” to thinking of them as nodes on networks, the 1990s may well be remembered as the beginning of the cyborg era…male-to-female transgendered theorist and performer Allucquère Rosanne Stone has shocked traditional academia with her eccentric accounts of the technological transformation of her own body.

Haraway described “The Cyborg Manifesto” as “an ironic political myth”. But her theory is now widespread. How mythic is the cyborg as a concept today in 2017?

  1. A bloggers opinion piece, post reading Haraway, identifying as a cyborg, saying trans* people are the ultimate cyborgs.
  2. Surgery as ‘self-realisation’, a transitioned Youtube blogger that sees body enhancement as a strain of therapy and identity creation.
  3. A reading of Cyborg kid-fiction characters as queer.

In the seminar this week we talked a lot about the ‘normal’ tendency, and when and when this isn’t linked to the idea of what is ‘natural’. Trans* identities traverse these two notions. Advocating for trans rights seems obvious alongside thinking about oneself as a cyborg as the borders around normal and natural are policed forcefully. Both trans* and cyborg politics ‘could embrace partial, contradictory, permanently unclosed constructions of personal and collective selves’, a ‘polyvocality’, bodied with dualities of voices and perspectives (Haraway, 1982).

I think  its really cool to create queer cyborg kid-fiction characters, and even cooler that academics are writing about it, thats 2017 for ya. But when out of the fiction realm, grounded in policy the cyborg is in battle. Edmonds ‘s (2007) article raises questions about rights to state subsidied plastic surgery, in 2017 with self-identified cyborgs, will the prison industrial complex subsidise body enhancement? Or even before that question, in amongst all of the prison industrial complex’s brutality, where to place the cyborg?

This is a real issue of 2017, all I had to type in was trans + prisons and I find Jenny Swift’s story. On the 30th of December, a few months ago, Jenny committed suicide in the all-male prison HMP Doncaster in South Yorkshire. She was refused hormone treatment in prison, which she had been taking before went in, she walked into the jail naked because she refused to wear male clothes. She appealed to be put in an annex of the prison, after receiving abuse, in the annex lived other trans women.

This is expressed in and around “Orange Is the New Black” star Laverne Cox. The clip below is fictional, but it characterises trans* abuse in an institutional context blunt and clear, though remember Sophia is placed in a female prison not a male…..

If the cyborg is an alliance who is it against? who is it for? and is it enough?

The cyborg prison is a being who does not strive toward totality of theory, or and ultimate all-encompassing explanation. Animate them all up!!


Anne Allison, Cyborg Violence: Bursting Borders and Bodies with Queer Machines, Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 16, No. 2 (May, 2001), pp. 237-265.


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