Haraway and Latour
Thanks to Paul Reid-Bowen and his idea of a paper regarding the (overdue) encounter between OOP and feminist theory (particularly feminist science studies), and the issue of masculinity and metaphysics, there has been some talk around about the role of Donna Haraway for OOP, and her connections with Latour.
So yesterday I picked up from my bookshelf Joseph Schneider’s Donna Haraway: Live Theory, to read the concluding long interview with Haraway. I quote here some relevant passages. Hope it is useful.
Joseph: So, I would like to talk a little bit about your own sense of, how should we call it, origins; the way that you began to get into this work before you found out about Latour, because he’s the one with whom you are often juxtaposed.
Donna: I know…it’s both legitimate and comical. Bruno and I are good friends. We are really appreciative and critical of each other. There are things we hate about each other and love about each other [a footnote here reminds the reader that Pandora's Hope is dedicated also too Haraway]….In 1979, when I was still working at Hopkins, I was given Laboratory Life to review for Isis. That’s the first time I found out about Latour and Steve Woolgar. I thought it was a really fabulous book. I loved it. The most exciting thing I read since Kuhn in terms of making me re-think how to think about science. It was wonderful. And i reviewed it very positively.
I get very angry at the lineages that foreground science studies as the boys and their places. I got interested because I thought they were doing neat stuff. And of course they taught me huge amounts at that point. They were reading me pretty much at that point too, at least Bruno was, very quickly. Part of the difference between Bruno and me on this stuff is citation practice. Part is national difference, the American customs around citation practice–much more exhaustive–and part is personal. I make it a point to try to foreground all sorts of networks that a conversation came out of, and Bruno is more spare.
Joseph: All right, the last question. This is about social constructionist argument. Both you and Latour in different moments in your writing embrace of appreciate social construction, and then more recently you both talk about what might be called a too-facile social constructionism.
Donna: It gets to be orthodox….[S]ocial constructionism got foregrounded; the volume got turned way up and it got developed in all kinds of creative ways. but then it becomes sclerotic. It becomes an orthodoxy. It becomes ‘ANT’. It becomes an acronym. It loses its vitality and becomes an ortodoxy. Also, ‘social’ construction misleads people to think only of humans. First, Bruno drops the word social from the title of the re-issue of Laboratory Life. Right? So it’s the construction of a scientific fact, not the social construction. And the constructionism…that kind of constructionism foregrounds non-human actors, who are, which are, engaged in the kind of sociality, but non-hominid kind. Constructionism starts being ontologically more heterogeneous. And then pretty soon the word constructionism gets in the way. So it is like turning up and down the volume on the different possibilities, because they become faddish. They get in the way. They aren’t doing the work anymore [here a reference to Latour's 'The Promises of Constructivism', in 'Chasing Technoscience: Matrix for Materiality'].
The link above is to the Google Books page, where you can read almost the whole thing.