Living in a companioned world
Book review: When Species Meet, by Donna Haraway, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008, 423 pp., $24.95 paperback, $75.00 cloth, ISBN: 978 0 8166 5046 0.
In her back-cover endorsement, Isabelle Stengers—no small intellect herself—declares of Donna Haraway’s newest book: ‘. . . more than a contribution, it is an event’. It was destined to be so even prior to publication. Since publishing her books Primate Visions (1989) and Simians, Cyborgs and Women (1991), she has blazed an increasingly influential trail across the landscapes of both the social sciences and the humanities. Haraway’s imagination is so formidably and inspirationally fertile that anything she writes these days immediately garners the attention of many working not only in ‘science and technology studies’ and history of science (her home bases), but in fields as diverse as religious studies, environmental sociology and cultural anthropology. When Species Meet is published in Minnesota University Press’s ‘Posthumanities’ book series (edited by the talented Cary Wolfe), and can—in some respects—be regarded as the main course arriving five years after the starter that was The Companion Species Manifesto (2003). It is, as Stengers says, ‘an event’ simply because we have come to expect nothing less than dazzling innovation from its prodigiously gifted author. Its sheer existence whets the appetite of those who, like me, have been shaped intellectually by Haraway’s previous, mind-bending interventions. But is it an event for other, better reasons? Is it, I mean to ask, a book that further demonstrates Donna Haraway’s talents because it will, in time, have a paradigm-shifting effect in one or more intellectual fields by virtue of its originality?