Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience Paperback – Feb 20 1997
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Donna Haraway writes about science like nobody else. She's exploring new territory, she's drawing new maps, she's onto something--the metaphors come thick and fast. Love her or loathe her, you ignore her at your peril. -- New Scientist
Haraway's 'modest witness' is a fascinating figure...In a contribution that is by itself worth the price of the book, Haraway produces a wonderfully thoughtful and complex account of...the interpenetration of biology and capitalism, two central players on the stage of politics...Haraway has produced a volume that richly rewards the hard work and generous literacy it demands of its reader. It is challenging, powerful, and unsettling to comfortable notions worth distressing. -- LSojourner
A mixture of passionate polemic, abtruse theory, and technological musing. -- Detroit Free Press
A conversation with Haraway is an experience you don't soon forget. -- Santa Cruz County Sentinel
It can change the way you think. -- San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
A richness of insight, challenge, wit, and intelligence that will raise the level of discourse in anthropology, should we have the wit to respond. -- American Anthropologist
A useful and provocative attempt to expose and retell core narratives in science. . . -- Journal of the History of Biology
About the Author
Haraway is Professor in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is written and directed towards scientists, but from the outset the book alienates them.
The book has very little to substanciate the ideas, other than self referencing.
The ideas presented are interesting, and if you are able to delve through layers of meta-linguistic jargon the Modest_Witness could perhaps have a good discussion, but her synthetic form of muddled argumentation makes for a poor read.
The ideas could have been presented with the tropes in a much clearer manner, the theories could have been supplied with some way to put them into action.
I urge anyone who attempts to read this book, to thoroughly question the ideas presented in an attempt to find real world possible applications.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Haraway's stated purpose of the book is that it is an "exercise regime and self-help manual for how not to be literal-minded, while engaging promiscuously in serious moral and political inquiry (...). I also want [readers] to have a good time. Comedy is both object of attention and method" (15). There is a certain tension throughout the book resulting from her dual commitment to the non-literal and playful and to the very serious. Her way of delving deeply into the adventures and symbolic meaning of fictional characters to use them to illustrate her points and her penchant for word-play are rather distracting, and frequently detract from the substance and clarity of her arguments. Additionally, the content of Haraway's book is enmeshed in a perhaps altogether unnecessarily elaborate format, for example, with sections of the book intended to correspond with parts of the study of semiotics.
Yet, Haraway's main argument concerning technoscience, that there is a need to create what has been called a politicoscientific community based on participatory democratic structures, is well supported by her numerous and thought-provoking inquiries into who the actors in technoscience are, who is benefiting, who is suffering, etc. She offers effective criticism of conventional scientific (weak) objectivity, which is grounded in an ideal of the scientist as neutral or value-free, and seeks to build a strong objectivity that will bring into focus the interests and contributions of humans and non-humans who remain unseen or unheard in technoscientific development and practice. I cannot help but wonder, however, why a book intending to promote participatory democratic involvement has been written in so complex a manner that it is inaccessible to countless numbers of people.
I have two main reservations about what Haraway writes. First, she is using her own version of Harding's strong objectivity, which differs in important ways from the original concept. Haraway attempts to generate knowledge from the perspectives of both fictional characters, ones from paintings and ones that Haraway helps invent, and non-humans, and this is much out of keeping with Harding's approach and yet no implications of the altered meaning of this key concept are discussed. Second, Haraway has a clear bias toward, even a romanticization of, certain technoscientific feats like putting fish genes in tomatoes. While she makes no attempts to conceal this bias, I do think it influences her too-quick dismissal of activists working against such human tinkering, as she claims she "cannot hear discussion of disharmonious crosses among organic beings and of implanted alien genes without hearing a racially inflected and xenophobic symphony" (62). The activists to which she is referring simply deserve more credit than this.
Or if you are someone interested in the expanding definition(s) (and hierarchies) of "life" on earth in the age/field of what Haraway terms 'technoscience'
And if you are willing to openly embrace (and interrogate) the politics of those blurred boundaries, so as to make "sense" of a non-senical world, where the human and non-human conflict and intersect...then this book is for you!
Haraway can be a tough read, however (for the most part) it is surely worth it. Her writing is engaging and in some ways...fun! She is not a "clear cut" scholar, she is a philosopher, cultural critic, post-gender biologist, and post-modern feminist all-in-one, so it is not surprising that her writing is often frayed.
However, I have found that Haraway's "easiest" work :The Cyborg Manifesto & The Companion Species Manifesto, are not actually easy so much as impassioned..the stakes are high and Haraway always lets you know this...this book is equally (yet playfully) enraged...or at least concerned, thus making it not "accessible" per se...but something which you Wish to access...and maybe thats enough?
You may not get though this book very easily but when you put it down after reading through a bit, you'll know that someday...you must return(despite the headache!)
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