Change for the machines: the cyborg in fact and fiction into the 21st century

Honey, Tania (2015) Change for the machines: the cyborg in fact and fiction into the 21st century. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

In science fiction one of the key concerns has always been the question, "What is Human?" The cyborg, an amalgamation of organic and machine, is a frequent figure in the exploration of this question. Science fiction has considered the cyborg concept as early as the 1920s and continues to investigate this figure into the new millennium. Running parallel with considerations in science fiction, military research and development into creating a cyborg soldier, a superhuman war machine, has been an integral part of military affairs since WWII. In the 1980s, Donna Haraway proposed the cyborg as key metaphor in investigating feminism in technology and science.

The cyborg in SF narratives begins with a concentrated concern with sexuality as a key indicator of what makes a human and then, into the 1980s, with the onset of general computer use in general society, the cyborg becomes a figure most often employed in the subgenre of cyberpunk. After the turn of the millennium the cyborg figure becomes more humanised and the focus on cyborg characters switches to concepts about aging and humour, while the figure is now paralleled by other alternate humanities like AIs. The cyborg has proved a critical step in this expansion of ideas on the key SF question of what is human.

In the military sphere, the advent of basic military technologies in World War I and World War II sees the advent of computer based weaponry which culminates in a revolution in warfare during the 1980's and onwards. By the year 2000 technological warfare has entered the world arena proper, but a material form of the cyborg, at least in SF terms, remains unrealised. The closest approach has been the development of a "temporary cyborg," soldiers with many of the augmentations pre-imagined by SF, but developed as external add-ons, such as weapons, armour and scanning technology. Additionally, in the military-industrial- media-complex, the technology in warfare is visibly lauded as masculinised, while the soldier has become feminised. This shift has also leaked over into civilian lives and highlights a critical crisis in masculinity overall.

In the 1980s in feminism, the cyborg provided a positive metaphor for resisting and destabilising liberalist humanism, and proved a sound theoretical approach for feminists engaging science and technology. The cyborg has not disappeared from this theoretical spectrum, but it has developed so far in that it is now a companion to other theories on how feminism can combat the dominant paradigms of science and technology, as well as opening the door to more fluid and fragmented concepts of subjectivity and thinking about mobility and gendered spatiality, as in difference and "Nomad" theory.

Item ID: 49051
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Australian literature, cyberculture, cyberspace, cyborgs in literature, cyborgs in popular culture, cyborgs, feminist theory, Garden of Iden, Kage Baker, military cyborgs, military, science fiction
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Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Chapter Seven: Honey, Tania (2012) Cyborgs in the garden: tales of Iden in Kage Baker's Company Series. In: Unveiling the Posthuman, pp. 59-66. From: 6th Global Conference Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberspace and Science Fiction, 12-14 July 2011, Mansfield College of Oxford, UK.

Chapter Seven: Honey, Tania (2014) Cyborgs in the garden: tales of Iden in Kage Baker's Company Series. In: Honey, Tania, (ed.) Imachine: there is no I in meme. Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 99-112.

Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2017 22:57
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200205 Culture, Gender, Sexuality @ 34%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified @ 33%
22 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 2203 Philosophy > 220306 Feminist Theory @ 33%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 50%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940113 Gender and Sexualities @ 50%
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