»Earth/Gaia is maker and destroyer, not resource to be exploited or ward to be protected or nursing mother promising nourishment. Gaia is not a person but complex systemic phenomena that compose a living planet.«
Donna Haraway 2016, 43
GaïaA troubling figure of thought
Gaïa und DE\Globalize
These perspectives enable us to consider the themes in depth that have emerged from the artistic research project De/Globalize. Agential cuts through Critical Zones in Science and other Sediments – Kabini, Nile and Rhine. The critical theorist Vasanthi Dass will briefly introduce in that project.
Both web documentations – Gaïa and DE\Globalize – were created within the framework of the collective project Gendering MINT digital, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Gaïa's AmbiguityGaïa – a mythological Figure
The photo shows »Earthrise« taken by Bill Anders from Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968 during the fourth orbit of the satellite around the Earth on the first trip by humans to the moon.
Gaïa’s AmbiguityTerrestrial Gaïagraphies
Gaïa’s AmbiguityGaïa Hypothesis
The biosphere is used by Vernadsky to refer to the self-regulating biological, geological and chemical transformative processes powered by energy from the sun.
The noosphere in comparison refers to the sphere of the living, the biosphere, transformed through intellectual and mental cultural activity.
Vernadsky was interested in the interplay of these two spheres, but he considered the noosphere to be not only shaped by humans but also by all living beings, for their metabolism is also used to promote cognitive processes. This understanding of the Earth – bringing together natural scientific findings and philosophical reflections – is the contextual background of the thinking of James Lovelock, the British chemist, doctor and biophysicist and his Gaïa hypothesis, which he elaborated in collaboration with the evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis at the beginning of the 20th century. This states that Gaïa embodies the cybernetic interlinked sum total of all living processes on Earth. In this context attention is paid above all to concepts such as co-evolution and symbiogenesis. The conventional understanding of Darwinism based mainly on the genetics of egoism (cf. Dawkins 1976) is confronted with a genetics that entails cooperation. Margulis spoke out explicitly against the capitalist zeitgeist of Neo-Darwinism. In line with her approach it is appropriate to question the extent to which market economics and exploitation of Nature, denoted as female, have formed an alliance and continue to do so? (cf. Merchant 1990 The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution; for the topicality of the Gaia hypothesis see Friedrich et al. 2018 Ökologien der Erde. Zur Wissensgeschichte und Aktualität der Gaia-Hypothese).
Gaïa in (Feminist) STS
Gender reflexive environmental research Gaïas [Bio-]Diversity
Speculative FabulationsCamille Stories
These milkweed plants are threatened by gene technology and chemicals and with them the existence of the butterflies. Camille is able to empathize with this situation. An ability she is able to pass on to the next generation, so that Camilles 126.96.36.199. and 5 become more and more butterfly-like.
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guttari speak of an »involution« in this sense. This does not refer to evolution as descent or inheritance but of becoming, not a kind of becoming equivalent or becoming identical but a process that »takes place through transversal communication forms between heterogeneous populations. It is a interlaced becoming. Becoming is involutive, involution is creative.« (Deleuze & Guttari 2002, 325)
»Make Kin, not babies!« is Haraway’s demand, illustrated in this Science Fiction narrative. With this she provokes discussion not only among critical theory researchers but also among those addressing cyber- and eco-feminism as well as postcolonial studies (cf. Subramaniam & Schmitz 2016 »Why We Need Critical Interdisciplinarity: A Dialogue on Feminist Science Technology Studies, Postcolonial Issues, and EcoDiversity«) With her Camille stories Haraway addresses several challenges of the Anthropocene in a way that evokes emotive protest: biogenetic manipulation, species extinction and overpopulation. It is a highly problematic, loaded and thus delicate theme that requires differentiated treatment. Haraway’s fabulations can only provoke this engagement and leave many unanswered questions, – Does Camille overcome human arrogance and thus the Anthropocene through empathy and biogenetic transformation? Could this be helpful against species extinction and overpopulation? And what does she understand by genetic-technological transformation of the human species in this context?
With her Camille Story Haraway emphasises once again what she calls the »artefactual character of (human) nature« and the entanglement of different creatures and technologies. We can only leave the Anthropocene behind us, according to this hypothesis, if – as she already stressed in her earlier writings on critical reflection of the oncomouse bred with cancer genes and patented – we see »life is a window of vulnerability. It seems a mistkae to close it.« (Haraway 1995, 190) (Bitte Originalzitat einsetzen!)
In view of all this, we should behave especially empathetically towards other living beings. An empathy as we are praticing in our dealings with ourselves and our own offspring. And – on a critical note – it is often lacking even here, as we become entangled in the biopolitics of exploitation of self and others, prioritizing control and manipulation over trust and solidarity.
›Critical Zone‹ Vasanthi Dass The Earth Below Our Feet
›Critical Zone‹ Vasanthi Dass The Earth Below Our Feet
»The Earth,« he said, »has a skin, and this skin has diseases. One of these diseases is called ›Man‹.«
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
A projects titled »Critical Sciencing Zone« (March 2018, July 2018) was a major source of inspiration for this paper. The occurrences that followed the projects was an array of related incidents with real and fictional concatenations. The disaster that immediately followed in August 2018 was a rude awakening to two southern States in India, one in Coorg, a district in the State of Karnataka and in several parts of the neighbouring State of Kerala. The unusually severe rainfall, and heavy floods, not witnessed in nearly a century, caused landslides that washed away not only the houses and vegetation, but also the land itself which changed the geography of those regions. These occurrences unfolded the trepidations of the above projects. The calamity was incorporated into the Kochi Biennale Dec 2018-March 2019 (Kerala), at Kochi, a port city in Kerala. The ongoing Biennale titled »Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life« includes several themes, and highlights ›ecological disaster on the planet.‹ This was an interdisciplinary workshop constituted by researchers from Science--Humanities—Design—Art—Social Sciences focusing on environmental question through the fundamental elements necessary for living: Air, Water and Earth. We engaged with Indo French Cell for water science, Wind Tunnel lab, and Earth Science departments at IISc. The participation and performance was by plants and animals (including Human beings) along with questions concerning the Anthropocene; the exponential development in Technology and hence human activity was the primary concern for our project.
Critical Sciencing Zone (March 2018) was a research process for 3 weeks, that ended in a performance(figure 1). It was inspired by Latour’s (2014) essay “Some Advantages of the Notion of »Critical Zone for Geopolitics« which was central to our discussions with scientists. The Critical Zone topic have been of great concern to scientists for a very long time, ever since the forecast of its fragility was speculated. It is the layer of the earth just below the atmosphere and it reaches below to the hard rock layer, also known as the mother rock—the continental crust. Therefore, Critical Zone Observatories (CZO) exist in different parts of the world, and they are equipped with sophisticated instruments where data is perpetually gathered and shared. Discussions with scientists, found objects and living beings around the Institute was used for the performance at a small auditorium at Center for contemporary Studies (CCS)in IISc.
It was an unusual staging and surprisingly the audience performed, including the ›intruding‹ bamboo stem that entered through the window out of curiosity, while a wasp hive was placed at the entrance, consequently the whole auditorium became a stage. We the expected performers remained off stage, and the stage was populated by other critical protagonists: a freshly cut wood found in the wooded areas, live streaming of the Wasp colony, a wasp hive and books used as reference material. The cut wood seemed to be reclining, and appeared like a dead being making the auditorium a funeral space. The puzzled audience must pay tribute to the dead and the living at once, although they were unaware of this predicament. The audience were requested to bring objects representative of their work to discuss, as a result they were forced to become the performers. Of course, we the so called performers were merely facilitators and performed to the extent that we introduced and reflected along with synthesized background sound found in the surroundings; extracted and shaped to highlight sounds that are forgotten in the Anthropocene.
The second event »Two Earth Labs« of Critical Sciencing Zone at IISc, was based on Land art work by Smithson. While the first event »Workshop and Exhibition« was a performance inside the auditorium, »Two Earth Labs« was outside the auditorium, in a small wooded area. One of them was nestled among the trees and a square piece of land of about 3m x 3m was cleared and dug out to a depth of about 6 inches. While the stage inside the audience was about 6 inches high, this dug out was an inverse of it and the performers sat inside the square and performed their respective research (figure 2). The space itself resembled a Bower bird’s nest to the scale of human, and just as they adorn them with colourful found objects we used serial lights that lined the entrance to the nest (Deleuze & Guattari, 1988). The male Bower birds (the stage bird variety) clip the leaves from a tree and drop them on the ground, and they also carefully turn the leaf over to get the right shade of green that they prefer. After setting the stage the male bird sings and performs. Nature continues to perform, come what may, and improvise from what is around: sometimes they even pick bright blue plastic corks to decorate their bower. The project continually improvised to include thoughts emerging from Nature. Within the square patch there were several mirrors on the ground facing the sky, but they hardly reflected the sky; the foliage and soil were reflected. One of the mirror that faced the sky, was strategically and partially buried in the earth and looked like a pool of water. The mirror in Farhana’s work and in »Two Earth Labs« are indicating narcissism, egotistical and megalomaniacal tendency that give rise to the exponential advancement in technology, and ironically this has happened despite the several severe humiliations suffered by the human ego through paradigm shift that emerged since the beginning of 20thcentury aggravated by 2 world wars. Radical paradigm shifts by Freud, Marx et al. contributed to a lack, and as a result the ego reinstates itself through endless substitutions. (Slavoj Zizek,1992). Indeed, the exponential acceleration in technology according to Zizek is a result of this humiliation, surpassed and harnessed by such achievements. The first event of Critical Sciencing Zone introduced death on the stage, and the second by digging out square patches marked burial: the grave became a stage for further research by Scientists, Theorists, and Artists. Perhaps for the death and transformation of the ego. Nietzsche’s citation at the beginning of the paper is a sharp diagnosis of the Critical Zone that proscribes for sure, but also prescribes investigation and remedy for the disease called »Man.«
Gender reflexive environmental research[Bio-]Diversity
Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques (1955)
[Bio-]Diversität refers to an approach that raises awareness of the diversity of flora and fauna as well as the myriad forms of human existence. Gaïa’s (Bio-) Diversity addresses the reciprocal relationship of “naturecultures”. Haraway uses this term to focus attention on the interlaced structures of natural and artificial-technical cultures.
[Bio-]DiversityInterview Narasimha Hedge
Your research as an expert of biodiversity, conservation and livelihood aspects in the Western Ghats explores best practices of collection, processing and marketing of wild fruit resources that simultaneously preserve the biodiversity and increase the livelihood of this region. How do you and your participants measure and discuss the value of fruits and trees in respect of their economic and ecologic function?
We used modern tools like remote sensing and geographic information system to quantify the resource of non-timber-forest-products. Besides this, we also used different participatory tools to assess the same. Further, to understand the demography, standard vegetation survey techniques are also used to assess the values of tropical wetland forests in terms of ecological, religious, social and recreational aspects.
Marion Mangelsdorf & Victoria Vonau:
How do you bring marketing and conservation into balance? In what way is economical and ecological knowledge distributed amongst the participants – and what role is gender, age, status, and culture hereof playing?
This is tricky, until recently, we were uncertain about what processes to use; however, we always proposed forest based sustainable production methods. Very recently, we have adopted some reliable approaches: Now we understanding the degree of occurrences of the species in a particular forest patch and then promote only the species that are found in abundant. Whereas threatened species are being protected. Our earlier findings demonstrated that participatory and gender and socially inclusive research approach initiated a process of change for more sustainable forest management. We observed that participatory research activities contributed to three interrelated outcomes, which can be considered milestones along this change process; namely
• improved understandings of complex local problems;
• strengthened individual and collective local capacities; and
• collective action for socio-economic and environmental change
Marion Mangelsdorf & Victoria Vonau:
You have founded the non-governmental organisation LIFE Trust. What is the meaning of the name - LIFE Trust - and what does it aim at? How has LIFE Trust been established and who is participating and supporting it?
LIFE Trust means, to think about livelihood and forest ecology as connected. The organisation established, when the local community were trying to bring reduced impact logging in the tropical forests of the central Western Ghats. The aim was to support local communities in conserving the forests and to promote forest based sustainable livelihoods. Forest dependent communities, women groups and members of village forest committees are the partners. Earlier, the state forest department, Bioversity International, Western Ghats Task force and the government of Karnataka, supported us. However, now we do not have any external funding support. We have established a Farmer producer company called Parna Western Ghats FPO, through which we are trying to promote the activities mentioned above.
Marion Mangelsdorf & Victoria Vonau:
Can you please give us an example of your work - maybe one situation that stands for your understanding of gender-sensitive participation or maybe one situation when something unexpected happened? What kind of knowledge is there and then shared? In which way do the participants interact with each other or the researchers and what role does intersectionality play hereof? Would you say that a diversity in perspectives is important to your work?
In a village called Kallalli, the Western Ghats region, we had organised a gender sensitive participatory research. It also involved the listing of non-timber-forest-products and then categorising the degree of their occurrences. Both the men and the women groups were separately asked to do the task. However, while explaining the research tool, some of the members of the men group were openly telling that the women group could name some of the flower plants but not the non-timber-forest-products. At the end of the exercise, the women group listed 123 species, whereas the men group listed only 103 species. We would have missed out a whole list of medicinal plants and species that are used as vegetables from the forest, which were overlooked by the men. Interestingly, even in the other villages where we carried out participatory research with tools for understanding the sustainable harvesting practices, women are practicing in a more sustainable way.
Marion Mangelsdorf & Victoria Vonau:
Regarding your conservation work we would like to know about your general attitude towards nature: What does the concept “nature” and its protection mean to you? What motivates you to conserve forests and swamps — is it responsibility, care, fear of loss?
Forest is everything; food, fodder, fuel, culture, values, fresh air, water and all the ecological services. Forest loss would be an ecological disaster. There are examples that vanishing forests, biodiversity has led to cultural loss and threatened the existence of human kind. For the past two decades my efforts are to promote integrated and interdisciplinary approaches for the conservation and management of the tropical forests by combining landscape/ecosystem knowledge and participatory methods. Few of our efforts are successful, where as many are not. However, we continue working for this global cause though on a smaller scale.
Marion Mangelsdorf & Victoria Vonau:
We are also interested in the concept "Earth". In German, the word “Erde” stands for earth, soil, ground, world. It also has a feminine touch as it refers to “Mother Earth.” Which words do you use in your mother tongue, Karnataka? Is there in the Hindu religion also the imagination of the “Earth” as a mother goddess? Since the 1970ies James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis have introduced the cybernetic concept of the earth as a superorganism. They named it “Gaia” after an ancient Greek mother goddess. Following this hypothesis, all living entities maintain the metabolic balance of the system earth as a planet. However, in times of the Anthropocene, humankind is disturbing this ecological balance and causes climate change. Interestingly this concept is now read in two different ways: either “Mother Earth” needs the help of her “human offspring” to restore the balance - which means that the nurturing relationship of mother and child is reversed. Or “Mother Earth” is furious and no longer willing to care for her “human children” as they should have been by now able to care for themselves. What do you - with your background as an Indian scientist - think about this concept?
We call this idea Bhoo maate in our local langue Karnataka, meaning Earth goddess. We also worship the earth every year on a special occasion called Bhoomi Pooja. In the ancient Indian literatures like in Veda (said to be written 5000 years ago), a lot of respect and values are offered to the nature, forest, trees and rivers. Even for example the sacred grove system is another example of traditional nature conservation practice where a patch of forest is protected in the name of a deity. However, changing socio-economic conditions and population dynamics have changed the scenario. We propose that nature conservation should happen by combining this traditional religious based approach and science based environmental preservation.
Information • Statement Narasimha Hegde, Bioversity International Gender Research FellowVideo by Bioversity international Participatory research for social learning and conservation of forest fruit trees
• Bearing the fruit of action Narasimha Hegde, in: Deccan Herald, 27. Okt. 2014
• Engaging local communities in social learning for inclusive management of native fruit trees in the Central Western Ghats, India Narasimha Hegde, M. Elias, H. A. H. Lamers & M. Hegde, in: Forests, Trees and Livelihoods 26, 1, 2017. 65-83.
Marion Mangelsdorf met Narasimha Hedge 2011 in the context of a Gender Research Fellowship Programme Inception Workshop in Kuching/Malaysia. The Wokshop was held by her as a researcher of the University of Freiburg in cooperation with Bioversity internationale (see the interactive webdocumentation Unpacking gender-responsive research).
Victoria Vonau visited Narasimha Hedge 2014 in the Western Ghats. This Interview was conducted by Marion Mangelsdorf snd Victoria Vonau 2019 via E-Mail.
Foto: © Victoria Vonau, Western Ghats.
Zur Webdokumentation Gendering Marteloscopes
Gaïa – Reproduction & Sexuality
The videoloop shows a sequence from
Seeds Share - In Memory of Esiah Levy
Degele, Nina/Timothy Simms (2004) »Bruno Latour. Post-Konstruktivismus pur.« In: Martin Ludwig Hofmann/Tobias F. Korta/Sibylle Niekisch (Hrsg.) Culture Club. Die Klassiker der Kulturtheorie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Félix (1992)  Tausend Plateaus. Kapitalismus und Schizophrenie. Berlin: Merve Verlag.
Friedrich, Alexander/Löffler, Petra /Schrape, Niklas & Sprenger, Florian (2018) Ökologien der Erde. Zur Wissensgeschichte und Aktualität der Gaia-Hypothese. meson press eG.
Gray, Chris Hables (1995) The Cyborg Handbook. New York & London & New York: Routledge.
Haraway, Donna (1991) Cyborgs, Simians, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge
Haraway, Donna (1995) »Primatologie ist Politik mit anderen Mitteln.« In: Barbara Orland & Elvira Scheich (1995) Das Geschlecht der Natur. Feministische Beiträge zur Geschichte und Theorie der Naturwissenschaften. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 136-198.
Haraway, Donna (1995) »Situiertes Wissen. Die Wissenschaftsfrage im Feminismus und das Privileg einer partialen Perspektive«. In: Carmen Hammer, Immanuel Stiess (Hg.) Die Neuerfindung der Natur. Primaten, Cyborgs und Frauen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
Haraway, Donna (1996) Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan©_ Meets_Oncomouse™. New York & London: Routledge.
Haraway, Donna (2003) The Companion Species Manifesto. Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Prickly Paradigm Press.
ournal #75 - September 2016
Haraway, Donna (2016) Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene. In: e-flux, Journal #75.
Haraway, Donna (2016) Staying with the Trouble. Frankfurt M./New York: Campus Verlag.
Harrasser, Karin (2006) »Donna Haraway: Natur-Kulturen und die Faktizität der Figuration.« In: Stephan Moebius & Dirk Quadflieg (Hrsg.) Kultur.Theorien der Gegenwart. Stuttgart: Springer, 445–462.
Hayles, Katherine (1999) How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature and informatics. Chicago/London: Chicago University Press.
Latour, Bruno/Woolgar, Steve (1986) Laboratory Life. The Construction of Scientific Facts. 2. Aufl., Princeton.
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Latour, Bruno (2018)  Das terrestrische Manifest. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude (1995)  Traurige Tropen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
Mangelsdorf, Marion/Pregernig, Michael/Kuni, Verena (2016) »Introduction: (Bio-)Diversity, Gender and Intersectionality«. In: Freiburger Zeitschrift für Geschlechterstudien 22(2): 5–15.
Margulis, Lynn/Sagan, Dorion (1993) Geheimnis und Ritual. Die Evolution der menschlichen Sexualität. Berlin: Byblos Verlag.
Margulis, Lynn (2016) „Living by Gaia“. In: Jonathan White. Talking on the Water. Conversations Nature & Creativity. Texas: Trinity University Press.
Margulis, Lynn (2018) Der symbiotische Planet. Frankfurt am Main: Westend Verlag.
Merchant, Carolyn (1990) The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. New York: HarperCollins Publisher.
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Medien Kunst Netz Online-Artikel zu Cyborg Bodies. Das Ende des fortschrittlichen Körpers
Gerst, Alexander (2018) »Ich muss mich bei Euch entschuldigen«
Produktion & Gestaltung
Production & Design
Production & Design
derives from the joint project Gendering MINT digital funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Responsibility for the content lies with the authors Project number 01FP1721, 01FP1722, 01FP1723
Production management and design
Dr. Marion Mangelsdorf
Prof. Daniel Fetzner
Content design and editing
Marion Mangelsdorf, Victoria Vonau, Lioba Martin and Nathalie Plößl.
With thanks to Maren Krähling and Carmen Gransee, who contributed to the work on the biographical texts of Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour.
Gaïa and the ChthuluceneStaying with the Trouble
Gaïa and the AnthropoceneThe Struggle for Gaïa
Donna Jeanne Haraway is known for her provocative thesis of 1985: »The cyborg is our ontology.« (Haraway 1995, 34) With this she criticized the common rejection of technology in the heyday of ecofeminism by the feminist debate and argued for a critical appropriation and ironic sceptical intervention in New Technologies. Two decades later – in the heyday of technoscience – she caused a stir with her switch to eco-feminist issues. She reiterated her argument that neither rejection nor enthusiastic acceptance of technology is beneficial for feminist theory, in The Companion Species Manifesto. Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness published in 2003 and later in her monograph Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene published in 2016.
Haraway’s thinking has resulted in a new subject, sometimes called Cybergology, at others Cyborg Anthropology (Gray 1995; Weber 1998; Harrasser 2006).
Life and Work Donna Haraway
Life and Work Donna Haraway
Haraway has been influenced by a wide spectrum of biographical contexts and discourses of the time. She was born in Denver, Colorado in 1944 into a white Irish Catholic family. In interviews she always stresses this influence on her way of thinking with its wealth of metaphors. After finishing High School she studied three disciplines at Colorado College: zoology, philosophy and English literature. It was not until after her graduation from college in 1966 that she first came into contact with left wing politics during a year abroad in Paris. She pursued her antiracist, feminist politics and active opposition to the Vietnam War while studying biology at Yale. Following her dissertation Haraway made her way into scientific research. Unlike Latour, who went into the lab as a sociologist, she was determined not to write her doctorate in biology in the lab. In 1974 she completed a scientific investigation of biological metaphors, tutored by George Evelyn Hutchinson, which was strongly shaped by the ideas of Thomas Kuhn, philosopher of science, Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors of Organicism in 20th Century Developmental Biology. After teaching posts at the University of Hawaii and the History of Science Institute at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore Haraway was appointed in 1980 to the first chair of feminist theory in the USA. The History of Consciousness Board of the University of California in Santa Cruz was established at the end of the 1970s by Hayden White. He sought to bring young researchers to his institute, whose work crossed disciplinary boundaries, and came across Haraway in this context. In Hawaii and later in Baltimore Haraway had been politically involved. During her time at the John Hopkins University she read Science Fiction avidly along with philosopher Nancy Hartsock and was a member of the Marxist-feminist Women’s Union. Her separation from her husband Jaye Miller in Hawaii was a result of her increasing engagement in »gay liberation politics«, but they remained very good friends. In 1977 Haraway and Miller bought some land together with her new partner Rusten Hogness and Robert Filomeno. They wanted to live there together in a constellation that was more multi-layered and involved more complex friendships than the usual restricted models of family and couples.
In the early 1980s her work gathered pace and she became very productive. She continued her work on primatology and began her new complex about cyborgs. In 1986 Bob Filomeno died of AIDS, however, and in 1991 Jaye Miller was to follow. Haraway’s chapter on »The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies« in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (1991) arose in part from her need to come to terms with these events.
Donna Haraway lives with her partner Rusten Hogness near the Sonoma County Town of Healdsburg. She taught at Santa Cruz until she retired.
Life Sciences = Techno Sciences Donna Haraway
Life Sciences = Techno Sciences Donna Haraway
On closer inspection of the research covered by the labels Techno or Applied or Life Sciences, it becomes clear that the aim is to promote exchange among natural sciences themselves and form a bridge to the technical sciences. Thus robotics involves other disciplines such as information science, electrical technology and mechanical engineering. The nanotechnologies encompass physics, chemistry and medicine. Furthermore, the umbrella term Life Sciences covers such diverse disciplines as biochemistry, bioinformatics, biomedicine, biophysics, nutritional science, food technology, medical technology, pharmacy, pharmacology, systems biology, environmental management and environmental technology.
In the late 1980s, especially in Great Britain and the United States, chairs and Institutes for Science and Technology Studies (STS) were established in parallel and in critical dialogue with the founding of the well-subsidized facilities for medical, natural and technical science research programmes – in close collaboration with industry – that are directly aimed at practical application. Institutes for STS were able to demonstrate that the so-called science technologies can provoke transdisciplinary perspectives via dialogue of an interdisciplinary nature. Hence, at these locations there is not only an internal exchange between medical, natural and technical sciences, but also an endeavour to view the big and hard sciences from the humanities and social- and cultural sciences perspective, often in a collaborative effort. Developments within the sciences and wider social changes are assessed for their ethical, jurisprudential and social dimensions. This goes much further than optimisation based on the anticipated results of technology. The different science cultures address each other in a mutual dialectical process. For in addition to a discussion of their social dimensions the focus is on the impact of medical, natural and technical scientific theories, methods and developments on the humanities and social and cultural scientific research themes and on the transfer in turn of imported social scientific conceptual models into the natural sciences. Looking back at this transfer from a historical point of view, it becomes clear that, in spite of the analytical differences, there is a fluid interface between the new science technologies and their critical appraisal, all being locked in a circular interrelationship, with many of the common related reference fields being located in cybernetics and beginning to oscillate into each other in Technoscience.
Haraway’s call for a feminist theory of technoscience means both analysing and shaping these.
The Social Metaphor LabBruno Latour
At the beginning of his career Latour went directly into the lab as a sociologist using ethno-methodological means – in contrast to Haraway, who, coming from the study of history of science and critique of natural science, investigated laboratory practices from the outside, from a theoretical-philosophical point of view instead of practical-empirical, already while preparing her doctorate in biology. Latour emphasises that nature is not present in a laboratory, because the whole lab situation is highly artificial. Furthermore, the whole society can be understood as a gigantic lab; microstructures in the lab point to macro-structures in the approach to Nature. »The lab (…) becomes a paradigm for how society functions: as in a lab, culture/social worlds and Nature are mix and produce innumerable ‘hybrids’. Instead of regarding these as such, they are systematically categorized as ›natural‹ or ›social‹.« (Degele & Simms 2004, 262). But this in no way constitutes eradication, as Haraway asserted in relation to Latour, but rather to the implosion of boundary-crossings. The more hybrids are suppressed, the greater the diversity of forms in which they reappear.
Life and Work Bruno Latour
Life and Work Bruno Latour
Latour 1986, 17
Bruno Latour was born in 1947 in the small town of Beaune in Burgundy into a family of winegrowers. So it is not surprising that in an interview he expressed his hope that his books would prove as pleasurable to his readers as the tasting of the family’s house wine. Appreciation of his works depends on a readiness to engage with his provocative unorthodox hypotheses on Reassembling the Social. Society and Nature, the human and the nonhuman are, according to Latour, no longer separate entities. The development of his social science position has been informed by philosophical and cultural anthropological approaches.
Latour did his doctorate in philosophy and anthropology at the University of Tours in 1975. Then he conducted ethnological field research in Africa and California. Latour soon expanded on this classical anthropological method, whereby Western researchers investigate ›foreign cultures‹, to include a closer view of the practices of his own culture, in collaboration with the British sociologist Steve Woolgar. In 1979 he published the book Laboratory Life, together with Woolgar, in which they presented the results of their field studies in the medical lab of the future Nobel prize-winner Roger Guillemin.
On the basis of numerous studies on the general principles and methods of the natural and technical sciences as well as research management he developed the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and Science & Technology Studies (STS), mainly in collaboration with Michel Callon and John Law. He is a member of the Society for Social Studies and Sciences (4S). With its interdisciplinary aspirations and the aim of crossing national boundaries this group became the most important organ of STS. Latour is one of the most prominent members of 4S along with Robert Merton, Michel Callon, Michael Lynch, Karin Knorr-Cetina and notable protagonists of Feminist Science & Technology Studies such as Donna Haraway, Susan Leigh Star, Judy Wacjman and Lucy Suchman.
He found himself caught in the crossfire of the so-called Science Wars of the 1990s only a few years after finishing his postdoctoral thesis at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in 1987. Latour was attacked by the American physicist Alan Sokal, who was launching a cultural dispute among the sciences at the time. Latour as a social scientist confronted these attacks in Pandora’s Hope. The critical engagement with the Technoscience project initiated by Latour and others, which foresees the crossing of disciplinary, institutional and international boundaries, runs through many passages of this book like a golden thread. Today he is one of the privileged in his field, who thinks writes and acts beyond the existing battle lines. One of these privileges is to be able to continue to expand his own frontiers into new fields.
Over the past few years his networked activities have moved ever more alpng the boundaries between art, the fictional and the narrative. This dissolution of the dividing lines between art and science is demonstrated by his collaboration on the exhibition Iconoclash (2002) curated by Peter Weibel and Making Things Public (2005) at the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, with exhibition catalogues amounting in some cases to 1000 sides of discourse instruments. Similarly, a perusal of his website reveals not only a heading for normal articles but also one for publications about pop culture. In his academic books we even learn about his love of comics, while appreciating his manner of thinking and writing across boundaries, challenging scientific conventions. His writings are clearly rooted in the French tradition.
Actor-Network-Theory [ANT] Bruno Latour
Actor-Network-Theory [ANT] Bruno Latour
Following Latour as the actor of his own theories is a labyrinthine task. In the 1980s he constructed Actor-Network Theory (ANT) along with other sociologists. He went on to retract this social theory in writing in 1999, taking apart the basics of the theory term by term, only to allow it to rise again like the phoenix from the ashes in 2005 in his book intended as a teaching manual Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory.
To this day ANT has been a subject of controversy as a social theory in science and technology research, which does not accept technical or social determinism. The aim of ANT is ›to follow the actors themselves‹ in theoretical terms on the one hand and empirical models on the other. In this way it becomes possible to observe and describe technics, Nature and the social as a network with common characteristics, sharing the potential for action. Latour himself understood ANT less as a social theory and more of a method.
He describes with a wink the basic features of ANT in the afore-mentioned book Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory to a student. The student is at first thoroughly confused about how to use ANT and persists in asking questions, confronting inconsistencies in relation to what has already been learnt in sociology, thus unrolling the common critical arguments levelled against ANT. Latour makes a space in this clever mise-en-scène in which to confront the critics as well as misunderstandings and prejudices. For this controversy leads him to the conclusion that ANT must be a strong theory, because it isn’t one in the usual sense. Other theories are good at »saying something substantial about the basis of the social world.« ANT in contrast is a theory about »how things are to be investigated, or even more, how they should not be investigated – or even how to make a little more space for the actors to speak for themselves.«
In order to give space to heterogeneous actors, Latour seeks by way of ANT to mediate between micro-sociological and actor-based theoretical analyses on the one hand and macro-sociological and systems theoretical analyses on the other. This becomes apparent again in his most recent work on Gaïa.