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Religious Studies

When Cyborgs do Theology: Digital Ontology, (Post-)Politics, and the Subversion of Techo-Culture

Kiel Robert Brennan-Marquez ('08), Darryl Smith, Kathleen Fitzpatrick

The increased technological mediation of social and political life in the wake of transnational capitalism has cast serious doubt on the traditionally linear hierarchy between God(s), human beings, and animals, and has thus (re-)opened fundamental questions of political ontology. Political agency is circumscribed by who/what “we are” and how we “came to be” that way. These questions are more intricate than they might appear, since, at least according certain strains of contemporary social theory, the “human” subject no longer exists, and, moreover, has never existed. I follow Donna Haraway and others in maintaining that the discursive composition of the “human” has always been entangled with two other ontological designations, God(s) and animals. In recent years, however, a fourth term – machines – has been added to this nexus. This paper argues that most treatments of technology in the social sciences err in their anthropocentric emphasis on “cyborg theory” as an academic discipline unto itself, as opposed to one line of inquiry within the broader, theological landscape of political ontology. The paper concludes by exercising the link between cyborgology and theology in order to re-invigorate their mutual, Utopian kernel: both offer frameworks for tracing, and ultimately resisting, contemporary techno-capitalism.
Funding provided by: SURP (NEH)

Research at Pomona