The Virtual Speculum in the New World Order

Donna J. Haraway
Feminist Review
No. 55, Consuming Cultures (Spring, 1997), pp. 22-72
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The Virtual Speculum in the New World Order


Beginning by reading a 1992 feminist appropriation of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam - in a cartoon in which the finger of a nude Adamic woman touches a computer keyboard, while the god-like VDT screen shows a disembodied fetus - 'Virtual Speculum' argues for a broader conception of 'new reproductive technologies' in order to foreground justice and freedom projects for differently situated women in the New World Order. Broadly conceptualized reproductive practices must be central to social theory in general, and to technoscience studies in particular. Tying together the politics of self help and women's health movements in the United States in the 1970s with positions on reproductive freedom articulated within the Legal Defense and Educational Fund of the NAACP in the 1990s, the paper examines recent work in feminist science studies in several disciplinary and activist locations. Statistical analysis and ethnography emerge as critical feminist technologies for producing convincing representations of the reproduction of inequality. Untangling the semiotic and political-economic dialectics of invisibility and hypervisibility, 'Virtual Speculum' concludes by linking the well-surveyed amniotic fluid of on-screen fetuses and the off-frame diarrhea of uncounted and underfed infants in regimes of flexible accumulation and structural adjustment.

Notes and References

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