When Species Meet

August 24, 2015 Donna J. Haraway

The following is an excerpt from Donna Haraway’s When Species Meet (republished with publisher’s permission).

Haraway reflects upon the ways that our relationships with other-than-humans are framed in our ‘modern’ society, and how this framing entrenches oppression of all kinds. 

“The word species also structures conservation and environmental discourses, with their “endangered species” that function simultaneously to locate value and to evoke death and extinction in ways familiar in colonial representations of the always-vanishing indigene. The discursive tie between the colonized, the enslaved, the noncitizen, and the animal – all reduced to type, all Others to rational man, and all essential to his bright constitution – is at the heart of racism and flourishes, lethally, in the entrails of humanism.

Woven into that tie in all the categories is “woman’s” putative self-defining responsibility to “the species”, as this singular and typological female is reduced to her reproductive function. Fecund, she lies outside the bright territory of man even as she is his conduit. The labeling of African American men in the United States as “endangered species” makes palpable the ongoing animalization that fuels liberal and conservative racialization alike. Species reeks of race and sex; and where and when species meet, that heritage must be untied and better knots of companion species attempted within and across differences. Loosening the grip of analogies that issue in the collapse of all of man’s others into one another; companion species must instead learn to live intersectionally.”

Photo by Atmo Kubesa.