Exercise 1.3: When Species Meet

Harraway talks about a story on a professor named Barbara Smuts. She is a bio-anthropologist at the University of Michigan and in the mid 1970s, she studied baboons for her PHD. Smuts explained in her research that “At the beginning of my study, the baboons and I did not see eye to eye.” (pg. 23) She sat still trying to observe the baboons, but it dissatisfied them. This made Smuts change her posture by responding to the cues of the baboons. The baboons would treat her as a “subject rather than an “object”. As a result, Smuts was able to conduct her research and was able to attain her PHD. Based on the excerpt, I believe Harraway’s point is how relating can change one’s communication between species. With the story that Harraway gave, it shows that as Smuts relate more with the baboons, they would treat her more like one of them. Harraway points out from Smuts that “With language it is possible to lie and say what we like someone when we don’t.” (pg. 26) Relationship is probably one of the aspects that Harraway see in a future of multispecies. This now makes me question about the friendships that I have with people. Would having to relate bring real friendship and is communicating is not a real form of relationship? I wonder if expressing ourselves other than communication is what Harraway meant as a true relationship.

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