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Somatic Technologies: Embodiment, New Technologies and the Undead

Anne Cranny-Francis

After the publication of Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” (Haraway 1991) the trope of the cyborg, already widely deployed in science fiction, became a major tool for critical analysis of the relationship between human embodiment and technology. The striking feature of this trope has always been its power to express not only ideas, but also feelings, about technology and being; it is not only an intellectual tool, but also affect-laden.  For contemporary western users of information technology it enhances access by providing an imaginary relationship between the user and the interface, which enables users to manipulate the interface effectively.  Also, because of its hybridity (the cyborg has always been a composite being – human/human (as in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein [1818]), human/animal (as in Wells’s Island of Dr Moreau [1896]), human/machine (as in James Cameron’s Terminator films [1984, 1991]), the cyborg also articulates contemporary perceptions of the nature of embodiment, implicated as it is with digital and bio-technologies.  Which raises the question of why the cyborg trope has this power; from where does it derive