Reading Walter Benjamin and Donna Haraway In the Age of Digital Reproduction

Franklin, M. I.. 2002. Reading Walter Benjamin and Donna Haraway In the Age of Digital Reproduction. Information Communication & Society, 5(4), pp. 591-624. ISSN 1369118X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Walter Benjamin's 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' has much to offer contemporary analyses of the 'Information Age'. This article rereads this famous essay in light of a later intervention by Donna Haraway, 'A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s'. There are strong parallels and overlaps between these two groundbreaking pieces, despite their many differences. Both deal with how their respective generations of 'new' information and communication technologies (ICTs) are intertwined with broader sociocultural and political economic change. Both apply controversial, Marxian, theoretical insights to changes in the mode of (re)production in their analyses of techno-economic change that herald both negative and positive political possibilities. This article takes Benjamin and Haraway in turn, their lives and their work in general and these two essays in particular. It concludes with a brief discussion on how Benjamin's and Haraway's optimistic takes on technological change - as political opportunity, despite less than optimal tendencies in the political economic and technical apparatus of their respective ages - can contribute to fleshing out theory and research on ICTs. And to do so without lurching between the positions of extreme pessimism or optimism that characterize the debates to date.

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art; mechanical reproduction; aura; tradition; cyborg; feminist theory; Frankfurt School; information and communication technologies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


December 2002Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 14:17


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