“Body Options Revised”: From Cyborg Enhancement to Sensitive Entanglement
In the mid-1980s, Donna J. Haraway introduced the cyborg, describing her as a girl who doesn’t want to become a woman. The “Cyborg Manifesto” was written for a new technological period at the end of the twentieth century, where Haraway anticipated the digitalization of our society, human companionship with nonhuman species, and a porous and unstable distinction between humans, machines, and animals. But the “Manifesto” also was written against a modernist and partly feminist understanding of a clear cut between nature and culture. Instead, Haraway coined the neologism “natureculture” to underpin the openness of the body towards its environment.
The last two decades of the twentieth century were dominated by extensive discussions focusing on the body: poststructuralist body debates such as Judith Butler’s “Bodies that Matter” (1993), Orlan’s spectacular body operation performances, Stelarc’s body enhancement actions with a third techno ear, cyberfeminist viral bodies fighting the brainworm in the net, transhumanist visions of the body as technologically upgradable. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the definition of the body turned towards a general understanding of its material entanglement and material response-ability for the world humans and nonhumans live in and with. “Embedded,” “embodied,” and “situatedness” have become the new buzzwords to analyze and theorize the situation of today’s sensitive and sensible bodies (with their viral, neural, and technical vulnerabilities).
About Marie-Luise Angerer
Marie-Luise Angerer is Professor of Media Studies/European Media Studies, a joint program of the University of Potsdam and the University of Applied Sciences of Potsdam. She is Acting Director of the Brandenburg Center of Media Studies (ZeM) and the spokesperson of the graduate program “Sensing: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media.” She was a guest professor at the University of Arts in Berlin (1997) and at the Central European University in Budapest (1998), Professor of Media and Gender Studies at the Ruhr-University of Bochum (1999-2000), and Professor of Media and Cultural Studies/Gender Studies at the Art Academy of Media, Cologne (2000–15). Her current research focuses on the definition of an affective-digital nonconscious and the restructuring of society through sensor technologies.