‘I would rather be a god/dess than a cyborg’: A Pagan Encounter with Donna Haraway
Issue: Vol 7 No. 1 (2005)
Subject Areas: Religious Studies
Through a close textual analysis of relevant sections of Donna Haraway’s 1985 paper, ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’, and with specific reference to her closing remark in that article, I explore the compatibility of Haraway’s work with a Pagan political philosophy. After a general introduction to what I take to be the key concepts for a Pagan politics in Haraway’s work, I offer a brief outline of her use of the figure of the ‘cyborg’. With this background established, I begin my consider¬ation of the final line of ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’, which reads: ‘Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess’. Through my unpacking of this comment I offer an explanation of the type of position that Haraway is attempting to adopt, a position that takes into account both the unique opportunities that we are offered, and the risks that we are exposed to, by technologies in the modern world. Equipped with this understanding of Haraway’s position, we are able more clearly to see her critical perspective on Paganism (which I argue is part of what is represented by the ‘goddess’ figure in the above quote). I then offer a re-reading of this goddess figure in light of the political and philosophical reality of contemporary Paganism’s engagement with the technological, and argue that the cyborg and the goddess should be understood as kin, not as adversaries. Finally, I present what I take to be the most important challenge that Haraway’s paper offers to contemporary Paganism, namely the challenge to think carefully about powerful dualisms—like those between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ and between the ‘organic’ and the ‘techno¬logical’—and to ask ourselves about the roles that they might play in our Paganism and our politics more generally.
Author: Thom van Dooren