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A symbiosis between disparate beings

Posted July. 10, 2023 08:01,   

Updated July. 10, 2023 08:01


"We are not one, and we exist by living together."

-Donna Haraway, from The Companion Species Manifesto

Biologist and feminist theorist Donna Haraway's book ‘The Haraway Manifesto’ contains two manifestos that she published. The Cyborg Manifesto, which dismantles the binary boundaries of Western logo-centrism, and the Companion Animal Manifesto, which emphasizes the co-evolution of species. Both manifestos span a wide range of disciplines and demonstrate a remarkable amount of interdisciplinary thinking, which seems to correspond to the concepts of solidarity and coexistence that the author ultimately pursues in the book. That is, "what matters is communication across irreducible differences," and we need to "restructure the body and reform the code of life in a history of mutual companionship."

When I started reading this book, I participated in the Seoul Queer Culture Festival in the Euljiro neighborhood of Seoul. While marching with participants in the scorching weather amid a heat alert, I repeatedly heard anti-gay protesters shouting at festivalgoers. We were forced to move the event to a new location after the Seoul metropolitan government refused to allow the organizers to use Seoul Square, only to face anti-queer forces all over again.

At that moment, I thought back to the book. I wondered how species with different bodies and languages could fully understand and respect each other when there was so much hostility and misunderstanding even within the same species. I wondered if it was a utopia deriving from a kind of thought experiment and an ethical dream. Then, as I read the rest of the book, I felt a shift in my thinking: I came to understand that symbiosis between disparate beings is not a choice or an agreement but a condition for evolution and survival. Progress and survival begin with an attitude of acceptance that embraces differences and that inclusion should always be a process, not a goal.