Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age

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Gray, Chris Hables. Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age. New York: Routledge, 2002. Reviewed along with Prefiguring Cyberculture: An Intellectual History by Veronica Hollinger in "Technoculture All the Way Down," Science Fiction Studies #94 = 31.3 (November 2004): 444-51, our primary source for this citation and annotation.[1]

From Hollinger's opening paragraph, where she finds both books useful for understanding:

[...] the effects of contemporary technoculture on both individuals and communities. [... Both are] exemplary technocultural studies, [... helpful for the study] of science fiction [..., recognizing] in science fiction the narrative genre most in tune with the future-oriented hi-tech present, the most suitable genre through which to dramatize the potential consequences of ongoing technoscientific development. Cyborg Citizen is a critical overview of some of the ways in which the individual subject is being constructed in/by technoculture, with a particular focus on the political implications of such constructions. [....] (p. 444)

Hollinger quotes Gray's assertion, “We live in a cyborg society, no matter how unmodified we are as individuals” (Gray 2), a cyborg society that is changing — evolving — fast. "Although he tends to maintain his focus on the results of the human/machine interface, his introductory remarks provide a more inclusive description of 'cyborg' than is often deployed by post-Harawayan scholars:

A cyborg is a self-regulating organism that combines the natural and the artificial together in one system. Cyborgs do not have to be part human, for any organism/system that mixes the evolved and the made, the living and the inanimate, is technically a cyborg. This would include biocomputers based on organic processes, along with roaches with implants and bioengineered microbes (quoting Gray 2, Hollinger p. 445).

See for the theme of embodiment, with cyborgs "at the interface of the organic and the technological," and/but "still bounded by matter" (Hollinger 446). Also, "postmodern war and human-machine weapons systems. [... The] “Enabled Cyborgs, Living and Dead” [... chapter, surveying a range of issues] from prosthetic penises to “neomorts” and the variety of ways in which one can now be dead, thanks to the supports and interventions of medical technologies" — excellent background for works dealing with uploaded human personalities from classic cyberpunk such as the Neuromancer series (starting 1984) through Frederik Pohl's The Annals of the Heechee (1987) to the novel and TV series Altered Carbon (2002/ 2018 f.)[2]

The third section, “Cyborg Society,” considers how technoscience is causing radical changes in definitions of family and sexuality, and includes an astutely critical look at both education and athletics in the chapter on “Taylored Lives.” Gray’s fourth section, “Cyborgology,” concludes with a chapter on “Posthuman Possibilities” that considers the necessity of developing a cyborg epistemology [...Gray 184], as well as cyborg ethics and subjectivities [...]. Cyborg Citizen remains balanced between an alarmist reaction to [... the] dystopian potential [of our "technoscientific environment"] and a political commitment to participation in its ongoing (re)construction. (Hollinger p. 446)

See also for prosthetics and (italicized and, so to speak, punned upon in Gray's text) prosthesis (Gray 184, Hollinger p. 446).


RDE, Initial Compiler, 23July19