Internationally recognized feminist theorist to speak at ASU March 5
Donna Haraway has spent her life making connections. As a child, the contradictions created in life led her to begin combining things like religion, philosophy, biology, literature, and sports as a means of realizing self.
“That need to put things together in order to inhabit the life that I was in is the earliest way I remember myself,” she said in a recent interview.
This mode of thinking was fostered during her undergraduate studies at Colorado College, a private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she jointly studied literature, philosophy, and zoology.
“I remember with intense pleasure the opening of the world to me in history, biology, philosophy, English literature, and so on” she said. “I remember the joy of a world opening up in a place that really valued intellectual work.”
Haraway points to the importance of being taken seriously as a student, even as an undergraduate.
“I think the most important thing for teachers to do is actually to be interested in the world their students inhabit, and in what their students bring to the encounter; to give students permission to do what it is that genuinely commands them,” Haraway said. “And that leads people to need each other differently, to seek out diverse research groups, research tools, to be more worldly, and you can call that transdisciplinary.”
A transdisciplinary approach to thinking and research has been foundational in Haraway’s scholarship as she works in fields as diverse as anthropology, biology, feminist theory, and science-fiction, among others.
She said, “It’s not just a matter of adding disciplines and stirring. It’s a matter of being a part of communities both in the form of texts, or performances, or paintings, as well as communities of actual moving players – not always just human – who are in situations of needing each other in order to be other than they were to start with.”
Haraway builds intense places of connection for people to learn from and use to begin layering meanings, both hers and their own.
“I think I’ve learned to both do and offer string figures, cat’s cradle games, practices of patterning together on issues that I – and I think we – care about a great deal, like animal-human relationships in certain agricultural or ecological or medical contexts,” she said.
In her upcoming lecture, Haraway will explore investigations of multispecies attachment, detachment, patience, and action, and how these investigations reveal stunning human ignorance about how to inhabit the world with other animals, rather than to observe and control them.
“I’m deeply interested in the way natural critters, such as ourselves or such as a koala bear or a microbe, the way it is we all get through the day. Literally, how we work, how organisms function, do energy, do work, do relationships. In other words, I think from an engineering and technological point of view about other critters and about ourselves. And I like that way of thinking. It feels like it’s part of inhabiting, seriously, a natural world. Natural and cultural worlds or natural and technological worlds are not mutual contradictions or mutual enemies, they’re more like a fungal web.”
Haraway’s talk will take place at 5:30 p.m., March 5, in Old Main, Carson Ballroom.
“I want people to come away having experienced connections they didn’t know how to make before, that make them care more, and perhaps imagine ways of being active in the world that feels more vital in whatever it is that they’re doing. I want people to actually care more about the living world, and ways of inhabiting it in our current troubled moment. I want, somehow, folks to go away having found something in the talk that makes them feel more alive, in ways that matter to their work, or to their being serious in the world,” she said.
“Like many speakers, I try to put myself at-risk to the people who actually come. The talk I give depends very much on the kind of energy that happens in the room at the time of the lecture and, in that sense, the thinking is different because we are here together now.”