Notes on an extract from: Haraway, D. (2003?) The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.
[Extract from]

Dave Harris

Haraway wants to explore how ethics and politics of otherness might be learned from 'taking dog – human relationship seriously' (1), and how stories about dogs can persuade us that 'history matters in naturecultures'. This is a personal document, a story in which she is 'passionately engaged'. She considers 'dog writing to be a branch of feminist theory, or the other way around' (3). She thinks it might be as fruitful as a figure of the cyborg: both bring together human and nonhuman. Cyborgs were 'appropriated' (4) to do feminist work in the mid-80s, but were inadequate for later enquiries. She wants to write about 'biopower and biosociology as well as of techno-science' (5). [Very poetic stuff leads to] a long history of evolution of man and companion animals, especially dogs. We should both think with them and live with them they are 'partners in the crime of human evolution'.

She draws on 'process philosophies' including Whitehead on '"the concrete" as a "concrescence of prehensions"' (6). For her this means that 'reality is an active verb' as pretensions, or grasping, is constitute each other. 'Beings do not preexist their relatings'. Determinism is 'misplaced concreteness'— the categories can only ever be provisional and local representations of the world, and foundations are only particularly potent consequences. 'There are no pre-constituted subjects and objects'. She cites Butler [!] on how bodies that matter are only contingent foundations. It follows that we can talk about a whole 'bestiary of agencies, kinds of relatings, and scores of time' — especially 'companion species'.

She loves Whitehead as a feminist, refusing binaries and relativisms and offering many approaches to emergence and process difference and contingency. It is not just about constructing a feminine world, more about understanding how things work, and 'how worldly actors might somehow be accountable to and love each other less violently' (7).

Verran discovered '"emergent ontologies"' studying schools in Nigeria and Australia. She rejects cultural relativism on political and moral grounds as well as epistemological, and asks how different knowledge practices might relate. The answer lies only in 'vulnerable, on-the-ground work' which cobbles things together, and 'that is what significant otherness signifies'. Thompson refers to '"ontological choreographies"' (8 )in her study of reproduction processes and conservation sciences in the USA and Africa. She rejects conventional examinations of bodies both human and nonhuman via 'either humanist or organicist ideology'. Strathearn working in Papua New Guinea and England rejects nature and culture as opposites and as universal, and says we need other typologies drawn from modern geometry — for example '"partial connections", i.e. 'patterns within which the players are neither wholes nor parts'. This is an ethnography of naturecultures.

We need to examine companion species in 'storied deep time' [at the level of DNA and cells] and in more recent times, where we can advance a kinship claim based on Whitehead 'concrescence of prehensions of many actual occasions' to reveal the 'contingent foundations' of companion species (9). We will end with a network like a trellis or Esplanade where 'you can't tell up from down and everything seems to go sidewise' [a rhizome!].

'Multidirectional gene flow — multidirectional flows of bodies and values' is basic to life on earth. We can see this in the genomes of dogs which represent 'ecologically opportunistic, precariously social… Couplings and infectious exchanges'. There are no purebred dogs, even after experiment. Dogs are even better than cyborgs to understand 'technobiopolitics' (10)

The Cyborg Manifesto had a trope to help us live within techno-culture without ignoring its permanent war apparatus and its 'transcendent, very material lies' (11). Cyborgs help us live within contradictions and remain alert to 'emergent historical hybridities' which actually exist. However she now sees them as only 'junior siblings in the much bigger, queer family of companion species'. It might look more playful, but it is just as useful as a field to examine 'reproductive biotechnopolitics'. She is not supportive of how 'dangerous and unethical projection in the Western world makes domestic canines into furry children'. Dogs should not be seen as a projection of oneself, but rather a species in a particular relationship with human beings, not always a particularly nice relationship. The relationship with us is 'co-constituive' (12) and emergent — 'there is no foundation'.

The term companion animal emerged after some biological research showed us that dogs have health benefits for us. In other cultures, they were always seen as more than pets — food, or a source of skins, weapons, trackers. Schwartz writes the history of dogs in the early Americas showing that some of them were given hallucinogens or prepared for hunting via rites, unlike other useful animals like horses. Dogs can live 'parallel lives among people' (14). Yet in the USA, companion animal tends to show the relation between techno-science and 'late industrial pet keeping practices', implying 'biosociality', especially something that is not to be eaten [hence the revulsion for cultures who do eat dogs]

There are also companion species, which include anything that makes life for humans what it is [her examples include 'rice, peas, tulips, and intestinal flora' (15)]. They show four 'tones' combining in a music. We can grasp the first one through evolutionary biology touching on the controversies about what a species is — a real entity or taxonomic category. More recently, biology has had even more problems with its categories, and we now know that 'the machinic and the textual are internal to the organic and vice versa'. Secondly, there are philosophical dimensions based on difference and different notions of causes. Thirdly there is her Catholic heritage of real presence and 'transsubstantiated signs of the flesh', the join of the material and the semiotic still unacceptable to Protestants including American academics. Fourth, inspired by Marx and Freud, 'the species' means something of financial worth [via a pun on 'specie', and the connection between gold and shit]. That connects with dogs and their commodity culture, the kit you have to buy, including pooper scoopers [Haraway sees them as a joke]. The four characteristics combine in 'co-constitution, finitude, impurity, historicity and complexity' (16), the 'implosion of nature and culture'.

We can use the term interpellation as in Althusser to show how subjects are constituted from concrete individuals via hailing. Animals also hail us and we hail them and there are major consequences for both. There also ways of living together that are not exhausted by ideology.

You can see this from a true story she has while writing as a sportswriter's daughter. She saw her father write and file the game stories, using particular tropes and vivid prose, writing the story not just describing the game. She is also influenced by both the Church and the Press, both scorned by science and yet nevertheless 'indispensable' in the hunger for truth. So signs in flesh, stories, and facts were always considered together, as a kind of prelude for culture and nature imploding later. We can even see the term companion species as an example of what St John called '"the Word was made flesh"'. She also studied science and realised that that also has to couple story and fact despite all the positivist claims. In biology, for example accounting for evolution 'was not so different from getting a game story filed or living with the conundrums of the incarnation' (19). Biologists have to stick to their story even if it has discordance and contradictions.

The etymological differences between facts and performance, something done and over, simply means making 'the deadlines for getting into the next edition of the paper'. Fiction also refers to action, but also forming and occasionally feigning, something still in process. [I think she's saying both are required to tell the story of living with dogs, where '"the relation" is the smallest possible unit of analysis' (20). She makes a living with these stories.

All stories have tropes — 'figures of speech necessary to say anything at all' — but from the Greek also a notion of swerving or tripping. Language never offers direct meaning but always has tropes. Her favourite trope for dog tales is '"metaplasm"', changing a word to add or invert letters, syllables or sounds, intentional or unintentional. We find these in the way in which dog and human flesh and their codes of life are remodelled. There is also a biological connotation in the plasm bit. Metaplasm can be a mistake or stumbling, or something that 'makes a fleshly difference'. Substituting bases in nucleic acid can be seen as a metaplasm which alters the course of a life. Deliberate crossbreeding among dog breeders also affects population and diversity. The whole purpose is to invert meaning, transpose communication, remould and remodel — 'swervings that tell the truth' (21).

Dogs and people 'figure a universe' which can include cyborgs, which also raise questions of history's politics and ethics, and involve 'care, flourishing, differences in power, scales of time' (21) — for example they can change the temporal scale of labour systems or consumption patterns, and can affect the work of human scavengers for toxic waste.

We need both art and engineering, couplings of humans and landscapes, for example. [There is a photo of a sheep herding dogs, for example, 22, — 'a cyborg composite' it turns out, offering an ironic reversal of the usual understanding]. A sculptor, Goldsworthy, shows scales and flows of time through various objects including ice crystals, rock canyons, stone walls. One of his works in the 1990s involved tracing 'an ancient drovers' sheep route'(23), taking photos and then assembling and disassembling a red sandstone arch across various places. The sculpture addressed among other things the story of the enclosures and the 'fraught ties between England and Scotland', 'geography, history, and natural history'. There have also been popular British TV shows about sheepdogs — border collies and the sport they engage in [apparently now known as the sport of agility], which has led to people buying them for pets and then abandoning them. This shows the importance of the labour of the shepherd and the sheep in producing the dog. Ethical issues are also raised by Goldsworthy — 'the art of naturecultures', of relations of significant others — and that's what we need to understand the relations of peoples and dogs. A series of 'shaggy dog stories' (25) ensue — both 'idiosyncratic and indicative rather than systematic, tendentious more than judicious and rooted in contingent foundations'. Parts do not add up to wholes. The idea is to identify partial connections, including counterintuitive and incongruent ones. These are 'necessary to getting on together '.

Stories about the origin of dogs are perhpas too significant for their fans, 'high romance and sober science all mixed up together', touching on human migrations, scales and intelligence, the development of breeds, separating out genetic and environmental factors, establishing origins, relations between modern dogs and wolves are all at stake. A news item told of some new research on dog evolution and the history of domestication which attracted widespread attention and 'florid consumption' (27). Is also highly controversial with no account unchallenged. That's clearly because what is at stake is what counts as nature and culture, and what and who counts as an actor.

Dogs are supposed to be the first domestic animals. One story says that humans also made themselves through the creation of their tools — 'a dogsbody version of onanism'(28). Domestication of dogs made civilisation possible, despite Hegel or Freud. Dogs stand for all species which have been subjected to human beings. The ususal story is of a fall from nature into culture. There are now remodelled versions that say dogs made the first move, and since then there is been 'an unending dance of distributed and heterogeneous agencies'. Some of this is based on a study of mitochondrial DNA showing that dogs diverged from wolves as recently as 15,000 years ago, initially in East Asia before spreading over the whole earth accompanying humans. It might have been because wolf dogs saw the 'calorie bonanzas' in human waste dumps, and behavioural and genetic adaptation followed leading to eventually 'more confident parallel occupation' (29). Apparently Russian fur foxes also display many of the traits associated with domestication and have become a kind of proto humanised dog. The course of human intervention has shaped the different sorts of dogs that appear, but 'flexibility and opportunism' is the game played by both species.

This story questions sharp divisions of nature and culture — differential reproduction cannot be seen as either artificial or natural, behavioural ecology might play as big part as actual human 'intentions'. Biotechnology is clearly appropriate, but some people see dogs as somehow more active in their adaptation and co-evolution. As a result, we have to rethink domestication and co-evolution, seeing them as emergent processes rather than some sort of Fall. Cohabiting is not just a sentimental matter — it is 'multiform, at stake, unfinished, consequential' (30). Co-evolution means both biological and cultural change. There may even be some molecular sharing in genomes, shared immune systems, for example.

Some people have argued that even the capacity for speech emerges only after dogs take over jobs that require scent and sound, but she is 'sceptical' of the specifics. More promising are recent ideas in 'ecological developmental biology'as in Gilbert's work based on 'developmental triggers and timing', drawing on new molecular techniques and many other disciplines. 'Differential, context specific plasticities are the rule, sometimes genetically assimilated and sometimes not' (32), with no split between environment and genetic factors. Generally the world is full of life — squids developed light sensing organs only if their embryos have been colonised by particular bacteria. Human guts require bacterial flora. Diverse animal forms emerge from 'salty bacterial soup'. Bacteria are crucial to all life histories. Overall, this shows that Earth's beings are always opportunistic, ready to form partnerships and develop symbiogenesis. Co-constitutive species and co-evolution of the rule not the exception. We can take these as tropes which 'make us want to look need to listen for surprises that get us out of inherited boxes'.

Dogs also feature in love stories. They apparently offer unconditional love. They are treated as children. This is a form of abuse for Haraway. There have always been 'a vast range of ways of relating'. Humans tend to realise their intentions in their tools and animals — 'humanist technophiliac narcissism' (33), which may extend to canines. There are other accounts of living with dogs — e.g. Ackerley ['an important novelist, famous homosexual, and splendid writer'] who decided to find out what his dog needed and desired. There is no unconditional love but a genuine attempt to 'inhabit an intersubjective world that is about meeting the other in all the fleshly detail of a mortal relationship' (34) — so for example he set out to find an adequate sexual partner for his dog. He pursued 'unswerving dedication to his dog's significant otherness'. He and his dog mattered to each other. They also misrecognised each other. It was 'worldly, face-to-face love' (35), a permanent search for knowledge with inevitable unintended consequences, just like love between humans [Haraway extends it as a possibility even to inanimate objects]. Other dog people [Weisser] use the word love sparingly. They show responsibility, and caring for dogs, which might even involve killing aggressive ones to rescue the reputation of the breed, and they learn about science and medicine. They tolerate occasional bad behaviour, and see the pleasure in sharing life with the different being, not a kind of child. She knows there are language barriers so that any contact is bound to be brief and different.

Haraway sees being a pet as 'a demanding job for a dog, requiring self-control and canine emotional and cognitive skills matching those of good working dogs' (38). It is obvious that play with humans brings joy to all, but there are special risks of abandonment or inconvenience. Lots of 'serious dog people' recommend that dogs have jobs as well, and do not depend on a perception of love. Another memoir from a sheepdog trial also shows respect and trust, occasionally for the dog's better judgement, but not love, 'a problematic fantasy' (39). We need these understandings of working dogs because 'otherwise, love kills, unconditionally, both kinds and individuals'.

Training stories are also popular [and she quotes one of her own drawn from her earlier work Notes of a Sportswriter's Daughter]. She has a dog called Cayenne and notes the relationship it formed with her godson. The dog was a quick learner. The child saw her as like a machine. Haraway wanted proper communication. She was the only adult. 'Intersubjectivity does not mean "equality"' (41), especially with dogs, but rather 'significant otherness'. She got through by persuading the child to think of the dog as a partner in a martial art of obedience [the child was into martial arts], requiring training of the kind that he had had.

There are behaviorist learning theories in the dog training world, some of them 'informed by bio behavioural research' (43),  aiming to produce relationships 'of energetic attention' that reward both humans and dogs. She suspects that her godson has had a similar pedagogy nowadays. The desired behaviour is instantly rewarded. There is wholesale replacement of the old '"discipline and punish" iceberg'. There is no permissiveness, but rather 'near total control' (44) necessary for teamwork, knowledge of the other and trust. Dogs have to be trained first to see human beings as the only source of anything good — no romping or release except as a reward. Humans keep detailed records of response rates. Dogs find compensation in receiving regular rewards, and learn to learn. They do not just 'morosely comply' (45). The dogs have to enjoy and humans must enjoy playing in an appropriate way — they must see what dogs are actually like, develop 'otherness-in–connection'. There is no 'room for romanticism'. Instead there is 'disciplined attention and honest achievement'. There is no violence. The techniques aim at eliminating training mistakes which can be both painful and dangerous. This is still 'a severely limited discourse and a rough instrument' but it is enough to critique 'success oriented, individualist America'. Taylorism finds a place in dog training, although generalising it would be unwarranted, and claims must not be inflated or decontextualised into general praise for positive training. Using the techniques -- 'pedagogy of positive bondage' (46) — at least stops inconsistency and dishonest evaluations. It does offer dogs 'serious, historically specific kind of freedom', making them safe in our environment. 'I think my dogs rather like ruff tough love' (47), although her godson 'remains more sceptical'.

Another animal trainer [Hearne] is more sceptical and also opposes animal-rights. However, she also shares an interest in what dogs might be telling us in all their complexity and particularity, and how this is needed if we are to relate to them. Differences over methods could be resolved by further research, including on the 'incommensurable tacit knowledges in diverse communities of practice' (49). The point is communication across 'irreducible difference', 'partial connection' based on respect. One point she discusses is the use of ordinary language. Anthropomorphism is acceptable to her, found for example in 'linguistic practices of circus trainers, equestrians, and dog obedience enthusiasts', but its main role seems to be keeping humans aware 'that somebody is at home in the animals they work with' (50).

We can never know animal others, but we can treat them with respect. Again there is a theological commentary referring to the negative way of knowing God — we have to first of all reject projections based on our own self. All ethical relations involve 'ongoing alertness to otherness–in–relation' (50). We are obliged to attend to the other. Dog survival indicates that they are good at reading humans as well. At least ascribing intention to animals stops 'literalist anthropomorphism' that sees animals literally as humans — this is inherent in animal-rights discourses for Hearne. Instead, the main achievement follows from 'the hierarchical discipline of companion animal training… Action [which is] beautiful, hard, specific, and personal' (51), no general or abstract comparisons.

Some writers equate the Holocaust with butchery of animals, or liken domestication of animals to slavery, but Hearne insists on specific linguistic and ethical responses. She advocates 'ontological choreography' where skilled humans converse with skilled dogs, as the key for animal happiness — those satisfactions 'that come from striving, from work'(52). Again there is no room for abstraction — there are specific happinesses, especially flourishing as a conjoined being. This might even replace conventional humanism with 'Jeffersonian caninism', because the origin of rights for Hearne is in 'committed relationship', not separate identities. In relationships like animal training dogs and humans 'construct "rights" in each other' — owners also have to learn to obey their dogs. The point is to enter into an appropriate relationship involving rights 'rooted in reciprocal possession'. This replaces the old ideas of slavery, or even ownership — it will develop moral understanding and achievement for us as well as dogs. It also means we are obliged to do more than just relieve the suffering of animals — we need to help them flourish. [Incidentally, Hearne citing political theorists like Jefferson is seen as an example of metaplasm].

Back to a story about agility training based on her own work. One of her dogs did not find much satisfaction in ordinary retrieving, but developed 'meta-retrieving' (55), watching retrievers intently and wanting to interfere playfully — retrievers become like sheep the sheepdogs.

A letter she writes to a fellow dog trainer mocks the 'cosmic arrogance of US culture (in this case, ourselves)' (57) in seeing the things that go wrong in agility contests as their mistakes.

A history of the 'sport of dog agility' developed out of training by the police and the army in Britain. Men were the early enthusiasts. Competition and commercialisation produced more variability in terms of gender and class. It spread from Britain around the world and to the USA and by 2000 there were thousands of participants. There are accompanying videos and magazines. The sport is increasingly technically demanding. Dogs have not seen the course until they run it and are steered by human signals, voice and body. It can be an expensive hobby it is 'not trivial for dogs or people' (16). It is still amateur. She feels guilty about participating, although she sees them as acts of love which can breed other acts of love like caring about other worlds. This is the 'core of my companion species manifesto' (61). Dog training is good in itself and it also makes us more alert to 'the demands of significant otherness at all the scales' principles of relating to dogs with trust applied to other relationships, and coaches showed trainers exactly 'what gestures, actions and attitudes block trust', even if they seem small or insignificant. 'The goal is the oxymoron of disciplined spontaneity' (62), to be coherent enough in an incoherent world. The trick is to try to live like that at every scale.

She sees her work as akin to Latour's. She has worked at both the evolutionary level and the specific, working 'fractally, re-inscribing similar shapes of attention, listening, and respect' (63) but there is another larger scale — historical time. King works on recognising emergent forms of consciousness in globalisation, distributed agencies made of locals and globals. 'Dogland' is similar. A feminist anthropologist [Tsing] investigates what counts as the global in transnational financial dealing. There were activities of '"scale making"' rather than activities focused on existing entities like frontiers and centres. Tadiar describes living historical labour which locates subjects in systems of power. They are not just raw material.

Haraway wants to include dogs and sees dogs that guard livestock or herd, and their emergent 'institutionalised breeds' as shaping a worldly consciousness, an 'imagined community' even if it is one that can only be negatively named as above. This is why she tells 'declarative stories' of different kinds, based on the 'breed history', a combination of 'lay and scientific... Oral experimental and experiential evidence' (65)

[And then there is a bit that apparently leads to following stories — so this must be the intro?]

social theory page