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Of Animacy Reading Group: Non-ableist Cyborg Politics
Institute of Contemporary Arts
May 2022
Courtesy Nella Aarne

Of Animacy reconvenes to consider Alison Kafer’s critical account of cyborg theories from the perspective of disability studies.

In her essay ‘The Cyborg and the Crip: Critical Encounters’, Kafer describes how the notion of the cyborg has historically appeared in feminist theories, and offers a meticulous critique of Donna Haraway’s seminal essay ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’. Kafer argues that the cyborg figure is too often harnessed to reinforce ableist narratives that unreservedly glorify technology as a path to a normative body or instrumentalise disabled bodies as illustrations of present-day cyborgism without critical enquiry. Kafer calls for a non-ableist cyborg theory that adopts an ambivalent approach to technology and not only highlights bodies themselves but also the political practices in which specific bodies engage.

Under discussion:

Alison Kafer, ‘The Cyborg and the Crip: Critical Encounters’, Feminist, Queer, Crip (Indiana University Press, 2013)

Further reading:

Donna Haraway, ‘A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century’, Feminism/Postmodernism, ed. Linda J. Nicholson (Routledge, 1990)

For access to the text and further information on the reading group, please email

Reading the selected text in advance is recommended but not necessary. Printed copies will be available at the gathering and excerpts of the text will be read together to support open discussion.

Of Animacy meets every month at the ICA and is always open to all.
Led by curator Nella Aarne, Of Animacy thinks through feminist engagements with human and non-human agents in the material world, spanning philosophy and science. The texts and discussions meander through a multiplicity of concepts and ways of thinking, developing into a vibrant web of ideas – the shape and character of which will organically unfold over time. Of Animacy fosters learning through open discussion in a democratic space, with an aim to recognise vital alliances for our daily life and political thought.
07:00 pm
Tue, 20 Aug 2019
Nash and Brandon Rooms
Free, booking required.

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