Donna Haraway is Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz; she is the author of seven books including Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science and When Species Meet, in addition to countless influential articles in feminist politics, science studies and animal studies, some of which are anthologized in The Haraway Reader.
“Anytime we’re talking about cultural objects like Avatar, in a corporate dominant culture, we are playing with fire, clearly. When the so-called indigenous is so-called natural, the extraordinary naturalization of the indigenous, no matter how talented, no matter how really, really, really, really great, no matter how many inventions they may have invented. But it requires the other half of the equation, which is a particular production of whiteness. Even though there were plenty of people of color occupying the category of whiteness in that film. Whiteness is a space to occupy for those who are associated with the technologies of conquest, extraction, commerce, etc. and that strikes me. Both of those two require each other. And actual, living people believe these things of each other, to damaging degrees. Such that I know no small number of white people, some of whom I’ve found in my own skin, at various moments, you know, who somehow feel less able to speak up, in a critical way, in a conversation with someone who is produced as more natural. Whether it’s in an indigenous rights discussion, a discussion about who owns race, class, and gender properties, and so on, and so on. The very much in-play ways that these story-fragments continue to set people out around these nature/technology contrasts, to perpetuate the trouble – people actually inhabit these imagined positions and do it to one another, including doing it to oneself.”