Smells like connectivism: Donna Haraway’s concept of situated knowledges

Text is written in 1988. I found affiliations to Morin’s Generalised Complexity (contradicting reductionism, resisting simplification), ANT (objects are actors/agents), CoPs (accountability as in critical positioning) and connectivism (knowledge as a multiplicity of locations/translations, constituted through webbed connections, forming nodes etc). Overall a must read.

Webs (and local knowledge) | (…) (Feminists) need an earth-wide network of connections, including the ability partially to translate knowledges among very different -and power differentiated communities. The alternative to relativism is partial, locatable, critical knowledges sustaining the possibility of webs of connections called solidarity in politics and shared conversations in epistemology (…) local knowledges have also to be in tension with the productive structurings that force unequal translations exchanges -material and semiotic- within the webs of knowledge and power. Webs can have the property of being systematic, even of being centrally structured global systems with deep filaments and tenacious tendrils into time, space and consciousness, which are the dimensions of world history (…) feminist embodiment resists fixation and is insatiably curious about the webs of different positioning.

Accountability | Feminist accountability requires a knowledge tuned to reasonance, not to dichotomy (…) science becomes the myth, of not what escapes human agency and responsibility in a realm above the fray, but rather, of accountability and responsibility for translations and solidarities linking the cacophonous visions and visionary voices that characterise the knowledge of the subjugated (…) the “equality” of positioning is a denial of responsibility and critical inquiry (…) positioning implies responsibility for our enabling practices.

Objectivity | Feminist objectivity means quite simply situated knowledges (…) objectivity turns out to be about the particular and specific embodiment (…) only partial perspective promises objective vision (…) Feminist objectivity is about limited location and situated knowledge not about transcendence and splitting of subject and object (…) the imaginary and the rational -the visionary and the objective vision- hover close together (…) I want to argue for a doctrine and practice of objectivity that privileges contestation, deconstruction, passionate construction, webbed connections and hope of transformation of systems of knowledge (knowledge potent for constructing worlds less organised by axes of domination) and ways of seeing (…) We are not immediately present to ourselves (…) there is no way to be simultaneously in all, or wholly in any, of the privileged (ie subjugated) positions of gender, race, nation and class (…) there is not immediate vision from the standpoints of the subjugated. Identity, including self-identity, does not produce science; critical positioning does, that is, objectivity.

Location | The issue in politically engaged attacks on various empiricisms, reductionisms, or other versions of scientific authority should not be relativism -but location (…) Feminist embodiment, then, is not about fixed location in a reified body, female of otherwise, but about nodes in fields, inflections in orientations, and responsibility for difference in material-semiotic fields of meaning (…) Location is about vulnerability; location resists the politics of closure, finality, or simplification. Situated knowledges require that the object of knowledge be pictured as an actor and an agent, not as a screen, or a ground, or a resource, never finally as slave to a master that closes off the dialectic in his unique agency and his authorship of “objectivist” knowledge


Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies 14(3), (Autumn, 1988), pp. 575-599.

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