Cyborg Anthropology:Anthropology of Science and Technology

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  • Hours: MW 6:00pm-7:30pm, Howard 203
  • Professor: Deborah Heath
  • Office: Howard 350 - Tel.: ----; email: ---
  • Office hours: M 1:30-2:30, W 1:30-3:30, and by appointment; via email at any time. (Please let me know in advance by email if you need to reschedule an appointment).

Course Description

This course will examine recent work in the emerging field of anthropology of science and technology. We will take as our point of departure two tropes.
The first is the image of the cyborg, and other hybrids produced by the merging of organism and machine, or of humans and their tools. The classic text is Donna Haraway’s 1985 essay “A Cyborg Manifesto.” This will lead to questions about the prosthetic devices that extend human agency, about the complex networks of association that link human and nonhuman allies, and about who is included or excluded from those networks.
The second, drawing from later work by Haraway, beginning with her collection Primate Visions, from Bruno Latour’s new book Politics of Nature, is the image of nature/culture, a perspective that sees the natural and cultural dimensions as inextricably linked. (See also my co-edited volume Genetic NatureCulture, Univ. of California Press, 2004). This is a vision that leads us towards organismal hybrid relations between humans and other species, or humans and microbial life forms, or humans and their varied environments.
Both of these trajectories instantiate a fully relational perspective that embraces complexities and resists reductionistic categorizations. Learning to think in this manner, struggling to see what links phenomena we have learned to see as separate and contradictory, will be the central task that we undertake together in this course. We will work to see the networks and practices that link Science and Society, Fact and Artifact, Truth and Value, Nature and Culture, (hegemonic) Self and (subaltern) Other, recognizing how binaries are constructed and sustained, and whose interests are served by reproducing those divisions.
We will read a great deal, with “texts” that include science fiction as well as cultural analyses of technoscientific fact, films as well as written works, and time spent with each other and with other worlds on line.


  • 1. BE HERE. As a seminar member, your presence is an essential ingredient. With once-a-week meetings, it's imperative that you aim for a perfect attendance record. Please notify me before class in the event of medical/personal emergencies. In addition to your f2f (face-to-face) presence in class, you'll want to make regular virtual appearances on the class listserv.
  • 2. BE PREPARED. A good seminar experience relies on everyone having carefully read (and re-read) and reflected on the week's readings in advance. Bring the text(s), and your notes, summaries and questions to each class. Please prepare a typed paragraph with comments and/or questions in response to the readings for each class.
  • 3. BE ENGAGED. In person, and in writing, you will want to demonstrate your critical engagement with the readings (and their wider contexts), with each other (productively and respectfully), and with me. (Stay in touch: in class, on line, during office hours). I am (passionately) interested in evidence of your curiosity, and promise to respond in kind.
  • 4. BE ON TIME. In class and on assignments. Please spare me the surveillance role; I'd rather devote my energies to you and your ideas.


  • Midterm, Week 8.
  • Research Paper, due finals week. Approximately 20pp., typed, double-spaced, proofread.


Articles not found in The Cyborg Handbook will be on electronic reserve. In addition we will read the following books:


  • Tom Boellstorf, Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008
  • Chris Hables Gray, Heidi Figuroa-Sarriera, Steven Mentor, Eds. The Cyborg Handbook. New York and London: Routledge, 1996.

We will also view the following films, for which you’ll take notes, and be prepared to discuss their relevance to the readings and broader topics of discussion in the course:


  • Bladerunner. Director: Ridley Scott. 1999 (Original, 1982) (117 min.)


  • Haraway, Donna. 1985/1991. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” Pp. 149-182 in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge.
  • Deborah Heath, 1998a “Bodies, Antibodies and Modest Interventions: Works of Art in the Age of Cyborgian Reproduction.” In Gary Downey and Joseph Dumit, eds. Cyborgs and Citadels: Anthropological Interventions in the Borderlands of Technoscience. Santa Fe NM: School of American Research.


Week 1

  • 9/3 Introductions

Week 2

  • 9/8 - Marge Piercy, He, She, and It (Ch. 1-12); Chris Gray, et al., Eds. The Cyborg Handbook, Ch. 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 (Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline, originators of the term “cyborg”). An overview of the Golem narrative, with additional links: [1].
  • 9/10 He, She, and It (Ch. 13-25); Chris Gray, ed. The Cyborg Handbook, Forward by Donna Haraway

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

  • 9/29 Kristin Asdal, et al., Eds., Technoscience: The Politics of Intervention, “The Politics of Intervention: A History of STS”
  • 10/1 Susan Leigh Star, “Power, Technology, and the Phenomenology of Conventions: On Being Allergic to Onions”, and Donna Haraway, “Situated Knowledges” in Asdal, et al., Eds.

Week 6

  • 10/6 Deborah Heath, “Bodies, Antibodies and Modest Interventions”, in Asdal, et al., Eds., and Michael Flower & Deborah Heath, “Microanatomopolitics” [on reserve]
  • 10/8 Independent study session

Week 7

  • 10/13 Bruno Latour, Science in Action, (Ch. 1-2, Rules of Method, Principles. On reserve); Bruno Latour, “To Modernize or Ecologize?” and Michel Callon, “Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay,” in Asdal, et al., Eds.
  • 10/15 De Laet and Mol, “The Zimbabwe Bush Pump,” and Ingunn Moser and John Law, “Good Passages, Bad Passages,” in Asdal, et al., Eds.

Week 8

  • 10/20 Midterm presentations
  • 10/22 Midterm presentations

Week 9

Week 10

  • 11/3 Boellstorf, Ch. 7-9
  • 11/5 Film: GATTACA

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

  • 12/8 Teaching Evaluations. Sandy Stone, “Split Subjects, Not Atoms; or, How I Fell in Love With My Prosthesis,” and Chela Sandoval, “New Sciences: Cyborg Feminism and the Methodology of the Oppressed,” in Chris Gray, et al., Eds. The Cyborg Handbook.
  • 12/10 Last day of class - Presentations

Final Exam Period

  • Monday, 12/15, 6-9pm - Presentations

Bureaucratic Postscript

Academic Integrity: I will assume that you have read, understood, and upheld Lewis & Clark’s Academic Integrity Policy ( in all our work for this course. Among other things, the policy prohibits all forms of plagiarism and cheating in your coursework. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR READING THIS POLICY. A good source of information about avoiding plagiarism is

Anthropology Citation Style: Careful, correct citation practices help boost your immunity to accidental plagiarism. The key principle is that if someone else is the source or inspiration for what you write, they should receive credit. Each discipline handles the details of citation differently. The LC Writing Center website summarizes the standard form used in anthropology: <>. Click on “Style for Anthropology.” (For more details, see the website of the American Anthropological Association:, scrolling down to the heading "Text Citations and References Cited.")

Yes, type it, and PROOFREAD, please! Formal work will be typed with normal margins, double-spaced (no, not 1.5), and PROOFREAD. Please strive to hand in clean work so that I can focus on your ideas. Make me happy by avoiding these grammatical faux pas: run-on sentences (NO comma splices!), incorrect use of “it’s”, rampant spelling errors (use spell check or a friendly human editor).

Key elements of successful writing: See the LC Writing Center, on-line or on site, for a treasure trove of writing tips. Let me know what kind of feedback will help you most. I will look for the following in evaluating formal writing:

  • 1. Creativity in selecting a topic or approach
  • 2. Anthropological focus, relevance to course material
  • 3. Coherence and clarity
  • 4. Convincing use of appropriate examples or evidence
  • 5. Lively use of language
  • 6. Good flow in the progression of ideas
  • 7. Editing to eliminate surface errors: grammar, syntax, punctuation

Accommodating Learning Differences

I am most willing to learn from you how you learn best, and to help you strategize to do your best work. If you have a diagnosed learning difference, or wonder whether you might, contact Dale Holloway in Student Support Services, x7175. She will help determine the accommodations you need, and will notify your instructors.


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