Monday, June 4, 2007

Ben's Reading Responses (Haraway & Foti)

"The Cyborg Manifesto"

In her search for a kind of politics that simultaneously appeals to socialist-feminism and embraces “partial, contradictory, permanently closed constructions of personal and collective selves” (157), Haraway makes some very interesting discoveries and claims. One of the most striking ideas brought up was that of us all being cyborgs, part machine and part organism. Technology definitely plays a large role in my life as a student: SCU (like most universities) has made technology a central component of the academic experience and without access to it, I would not be able to succeed in school. But even though I have such a strong relationship with technology, with computers, cell phones, and the internet, I do not feel that I am part machine. So, needless to say, in reading all that Haraway had to say about cyborgs (and about dualisms in our society in general), I was very fascinated.

A related part of the reading I found particularly interesting was Haraway’s discussion later in the chapter regarding dependence on electronics (165). We have had relied so heavily on electronics, she says, that the difference between the machine and the organism has become blurred: “mind, body, and tool are on very intimate terms” (165). Is this true? Has technology become a part of each of our selves? Haraway also claims that, because of this new “intimate” connection between organisms and machines, the organism has lost its classification as an “object of knowledge,” that we now consider machines to be objects of knowledge. The idea made me reflect on the extent of our dependence on technology, and I wonder if it will be the fatal flaw, the cause of the downfall, of humanity.

Alex Foti Interview

In his response to the third question of the interview, Foti stated that knowledge workers--students, researchers, educators, etc.--were “probably the most organized” out of the Italian “precariat.” This was the most notable part of the interview, for me. Earlier in it, Foti talked of looking to America and seeing the future of exploitation in Italy; in the same way, I believe we should look to Italy (and France and Denmark) for a model for knowledge worker organization and activism. As we have read, the corporatization of universities is creating a dire situation for students and (especially) for researchers and teachers. Foti’s statement sort of surprised me: I feel that out of all the groups in America that should and need to be organized, knowledge workers need to be the most, and yet I don’t think of them as being organized at all. Much good would come from having students, educators, and researchers (and all combinations) organize together to put a halt to exploitation. But would American students would be willing to unionize? Would they be able to overcome universities’ inevitable efforts to prevent organizing?

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