Hall Center For The Humanities


Donna J. Haraway
History of Consciousness/Women's Studies, University of California at Santa Cruz

"The Birth of the Kennel: Diversity Politics in the Dog Genome"
Humanities Lecture Series

Thu., Mar. 8, 2001, 12:00am
What happens when the mongrel fields of the biological and cultural anthropology of genetics are approached through the genome of "man's best friend" instead of "man"? Donna J. Haraway explored such questions in a thought-provoking presentation on dog culture, eugenics, biodiversity, race, and gender. "The Birth of the Kennel: Diversity Politics in the Dog Genome" asked strikingly original and provocative questions about the West's relationship with dogs. Why do women play such a large role in the canine worlds of the West? How do dogs lead us to rethink gender, race, kind, species, and kin? How does the popular view of wolves fit in with evolutionary accounts of the dog? These were just some of the questions Haraway delved into as she looked into the remarkable realm of dog discourse.

Haraway also led two colloquia during her visit. "Just-in-Time Genomes" took off from Geoff Bowker and S. Leigh Star's new book, Starting Things Out, to explore how the popular and professional cultural worlds of genomics make and use categories for comparison. After all, social worlds are at stake in the work of category formation. The colloquium explored what?and who?gets to count as similar to what else and with what consequences. What do concerns about indigenous sovereignty in the Human Genome Diversity Project, debates about cloning the family dog, and international species suvival plans for tigers and poodles have in common? Race, breed, population, and species discourses have all mutated in the magical worlds of DNA nature-cultures. Nonetheless, worlds of difference in genome science and politics are still in the family.

The second colloquium, "Alpha Bitches Online: Social Worlds, Companion Species, and Feminist Theory," drew from interviews and participation in Internet-mediated communities in dog worlds to ask about the development of the curious, recent, historical object called "companion species." What ethical, pedagogical, narratival, and technoscientific practices are brought together to make companion species possible? Fiction, health and genetics activism, maked gender practices, and commercial activity were all on the agenda.

Haraway is Professor of History of Consciousness and Women's Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her academic Interests include feminist theory, historical and cultural studies of modern science and technology, and the relation of life and human sciences.

March 8, 2001
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