Donna Haraway, evolution from nature

Little known in France (perhaps because of the difficulty of translating its style and its many neologisms?), Donna Haraway, philosopher and biologist, is the author of the famous Cyborg manifests (1985) in which she invited feminist thinkers to take the opposite view of the dominant culture of the Reagan era.

The central question of Living with the disorder (not to be confused with Gender disorder by Judith Butler) is for “Makers of mismatched kinship”. The originality of this work is not to stop at a simple criticism of the state of affairs of the current ecological disaster (whose thesis is that capitalism would be the only responsible), but to think from another space-time, echoing the chthonic forces (from the Greek chthonios which means “The world below”). Haraway shifts her work more directly to the relationships that bind living things to each other and to humans. She thus makes these links emerge through a multiplicity of survey sites, always accompanied by her dog Cayenne and a host of other critters, scientists, artists and amateurs of all kinds. In a previous book (When Species Meet, 2008) Haraway had told how the relationship with his dog had profoundly changed his relationship with “Other beings that matter”. This original analysis makes the book difficult to read because we do not know what is scientific analysis or science fiction, a label that the author claims moreover. Its partners in science studies, anthropology and the art of storytelling, she says in the introduction, are as diverse as Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour, Marilyn Strathern and Ursula Le Guin…

Donna Haraway and her dog Cayenne. Photo DR

In the fourth chapter, “Make parents,” Haraway tackles the “Decolonial and specific reproductive freedom in a dangerously troubled world”. From this perspective, the work ends with a speculative fable that unfolds the story of several Camilles (each newborn baby having at least three human parents for the author) called “Children of the compost” that cross several generations. Camille n ° 1 was born in 2035 and Camille n ° 5 in 2425 in a world where the number of human beings on earth is declining, from ten billion at its peak in 2110 to stabilize around three billion in 2400. The stories of these «clusters» of Camille and their friends had been presented, duly referenced by the author invited to a Symposium of Cerisy, in the workshop “Speculative narration” alongside the Belgian philosopher and ethologist Vinciane Despret, herself the author of an astonishing Living like a bird (Actes Sud, 2019). Haraway seems here to approach a European philosophical movement, called the “Little band of ecosophists”, whose heralds are nothing less than Bruno Latour and Philippe Descola. Donna Haraway is an author to discover.


Geneviève Delaisi from Parseval

Donna J. Haraway Living with the disorder Translated from English (United States) by Vivien García. Les Editions des mondes à faire, 400 pp., 28 €.

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