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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Cyborgs and Entanglements: Locating Ourselves in a Strange Land

This paper reflects on how new technologies and social change in late modernity have made 'locating ourselves' problematic. As we struggle with fragmentation, globalization, urbanization and advanced technologies, to 'locate ourselves' can be bewildering. Queer and Actor Network theory identify how binary concepts of difference can be transcended claiming that identities are less stable, boundaries more porous, and what we believed to be fixed, for example the difference between male and female or between human and machines is much more fluid than we believed. This paper argues that 'the other' by which we recognize ourselves (Lavinas 1981) is no-longer necessarily human, and the human is no-longer necessarily separated from nature and machines (Latour 1988; Haraway 1991; Law 1994). Animate and inanimate objects become entangled and have agency in our networks and within ourselves. As Donna Haraway claims: By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs (Haraway 1991). The paper tentatively proposes a new ORT-ANT approach to help us understand and explain subjectivity in a 'networked' society. Actor Network Theory (ANT) and Psychoanalytic Object Relations Theory (ORT) are brought together, in an attempt to see if this theoretical hybrid can help us locate ourselves in a strange land.