Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene

Duke University Press
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In the midst of spiraling ecological devastation, multispecies feminist theorist Donna J. Haraway offers provocative new ways to reconfigure our relations to the earth and all its inhabitants. She eschews referring to our current epoch as the Anthropocene, preferring to conceptualize it as what she calls the Chthulucene, as it more aptly and fully describes our epoch as one in which the human and nonhuman are inextricably linked in tentacular practices. The Chthulucene, Haraway explains, requires sym-poiesis, or making-with, rather than auto-poiesis, or self-making. Learning to stay with the trouble of living and dying together on a damaged earth will prove more conducive to the kind of thinking that would provide the means to building more livable futures. Theoretically and methodologically driven by the signifier SF—string figures, science fact, science fiction, speculative feminism, speculative fabulation, so far—Staying with the Trouble further cements Haraway's reputation as one of the most daring and original thinkers of our time.
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About the author

Donna J. Haraway is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of several books, most recently, Manifestly Haraway.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Aug 19, 2016
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780822373780
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
Social Science / Feminism & Feminist Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Meeting the Universe Halfway is an ambitious book with far-reaching implications for numerous fields in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In this volume, Karen Barad, theoretical physicist and feminist theorist, elaborates her theory of agential realism. Offering an account of the world as a whole rather than as composed of separate natural and social realms, agential realism is at once a new epistemology, ontology, and ethics. The starting point for Barad’s analysis is the philosophical framework of quantum physicist Niels Bohr. Barad extends and partially revises Bohr’s philosophical views in light of current scholarship in physics, science studies, and the philosophy of science as well as feminist, poststructuralist, and other critical social theories. In the process, she significantly reworks understandings of space, time, matter, causality, agency, subjectivity, and objectivity.

In an agential realist account, the world is made of entanglements of “social” and “natural” agencies, where the distinction between the two emerges out of specific intra-actions. Intra-activity is an inexhaustible dynamism that configures and reconfigures relations of space-time-matter. In explaining intra-activity, Barad reveals questions about how nature and culture interact and change over time to be fundamentally misguided. And she reframes understanding of the nature of scientific and political practices and their “interrelationship.” Thus she pays particular attention to the responsible practice of science, and she emphasizes changes in the understanding of political practices, critically reworking Judith Butler’s influential theory of performativity. Finally, Barad uses agential realism to produce a new interpretation of quantum physics, demonstrating that agential realism is more than a means of reflecting on science; it can be used to actually do science.

“When Species Meet is a breathtaking meditation on the intersection between humankind and dog, philosophy and science, and macro and micro cultures.” —Cameron Woo, Publisher of Bark magazine

 

In 2006, about 69 million U.S. households had pets, giving homes to around 73.9 million dogs, 90.5 million cats, and 16.6 million birds, and spending over $38 billion dollars on companion animals. As never before in history, our pets are truly members of the family. But the notion of “companion  species”—knotted from human beings, animals and other organisms, landscapes, and technologies—includes much more than “companion animals.”

 

In When Species Meet, Donna J. Haraway digs into this larger phenomenon to contemplate the interactions of humans with many kinds of critters, especially with those called domestic. At the heart of the book are her experiences in agility training with her dogs Cayenne and Roland, but Haraway’s vision here also encompasses wolves, chickens, cats, baboons, sheep, microorganisms, and whales wearing video cameras. From designer pets to lab animals to trained therapy dogs, she deftly explores philosophical, cultural, and biological aspects of animal-human encounters.

 

In this deeply personal yet intellectually groundbreaking work, Haraway develops the idea of companion species, those who meet and break bread together but not without some indigestion. “A great deal is at stake in such meetings,” she writes, “and outcomes are not guaranteed.  There is no assured happy or unhappy ending—socially, ecologically, or scientifically. There is only the chance for getting on together with some grace.”

 

Ultimately, she finds that respect, curiosity, and knowledge spring from animal-human associations and work powerfully against ideas about human exceptionalism.

 

One of the founders of the posthumanities, Donna J. Haraway is professor in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Author of many books and widely read essays, including The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness and the now-classic essay “The Cyborg Manifesto,” she received the J. D. Bernal Prize in 2000, a lifetime achievement award from the Society for Social Studies in Science.

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