Staying with the Trouble

Making Kin in the Chthulucene

Staying with the Trouble

Experimental Futures

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Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 31 illustrations, incl. 2 in c Published: September 2016

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Science and Technology Studies > Feminist Science Studies

In the midst of spiraling ecological devastation, multispecies feminist theorist Donna J. Haraway offers provocative new ways to reconfigure our relations to the earth and all its inhabitants. She eschews referring to our current epoch as the Anthropocene, preferring to conceptualize it as what she calls the Chthulucene, as it more aptly and fully describes our epoch as one in which the human and nonhuman are inextricably linked in tentacular practices. The Chthulucene, Haraway explains, requires sym-poiesis, or making-with, rather than auto-poiesis, or self-making. Learning to stay with the trouble of living and dying together on a damaged earth will prove more conducive to the kind of thinking that would provide the means to building more livable futures. Theoretically and methodologically driven by the signifier SF—string figures, science fact, science fiction, speculative feminism, speculative fabulation, so far—Staying with the Trouble further cements Haraway's reputation as one of the most daring and original thinkers of our time.


"In Staying with the Trouble, we find real SF: science fiction, science fact, science fantasy, speculative feminism, speculative fabulation, string figures, so far. So many ways to look at the world and ourselves, so many complicated ideas on how we critters will survive and thrive and die in the disturbing Chthulucene. Haraway is difficult to read. But the effort required is worth it."
  — Nancy Jane Moore, Cascadia Subduction Zone

"Chthulucene is not a simple word, yet it is a productive motif for Haraway. With it she laces ideas from urban pigeons, woolen coral reefs, writing workshops, Inupiat computer games, canine estrogen and Black Mesa sheep. The thready and the tentacular form the subject and the framework of her theory-making, as well as the structure of her writing."  — Archie Davies, Antipode

"Staying with the Trouble is Haraway at her most accessible. Readers familiar with her work with recognize her characteristic style and language, polysemous metaphors co-mingle with evocative refrains, deep etymological readings, and even the occasional sentence with internal rhyme schemes. . . . This is a work to provoke and inspire. It is a call to arms (or pseudopods as the case may be)!"
  — Matt Thompson, Savage Minds

"[W]e should take seriously the implications of kin versus family, of kin as encompassing all non-human relations. There is an ethics here, on a micro and macro level. Haraway is no moralist, but replacing 'human relations' with 'kin' arguably brings about a transformation in our hierarchies and priorities - why not care as much about a wildflower as you do about your niece? If it is not a zero-sum game, and let us hope it is not, we can make room for all kinds of lives, and all kinds of ways of living. Staying with the trouble is also a matter of sticking with all the things that currently live and will die alongside us, whether we cause it or notice it or not."
  — Nina Power, Spike

"Haraway models like few others deep intellectual generosity and curiosity. Staying with the Trouble cites students, thinks with community activists and artists, and writes alongside scientists and fiction writers. Haraway does not want you to read her; she wants you to read with her. She also insists on conversations with all kinds of storytellers: academics or not, humans or not, environmental humanities scholars or not."
  — Astrida Neimanis, Australian Feminist Studies

"Haraway’s book is a pleasure to read because of the playful complexity she is famous for. While her affection for science-fiction tropes is evident across her oeuvre, Staying with the Trouble is the closest she has ever come to a sci-fi genre piece. As a totality of examples from the reparative arts of The Crochet Coral Reef project, to her dog Cayenne’s fraught medical imbrication with Big Pharma via the horses that are factory farmed for the high-oestrogen urine they produce—both of which could be found just as easily in the feminist futurism of Margaret Atwood—Haraway’s book is best navigated with an openness to the speculative quality of her writing and its reimagining of the world." — Jennifer Mae Hamilton, Cultural Studies Review

"The book enacts different forms of analysis and activism. It is not only that the book transcends disciplinary boundaries of biology, sciences studies, art history, philosophy and dense descriptions of political activism most often found in social sciences. These approaches are interwoven in a very rich and exquisite manner for which the author is well known." — Waltraud Ernst, Angelaki

"In Staying with the Trouble, Haraway offers important guidance to us, the storytellers of the Chthulucene (i.e. STS scholars); in our own situated projects, we need to ask what it would take to avoid thinking traps of environmental optimism/pessimism, stay with the trouble and imagine ourselves as participants in collective world-making. While the Anthropocene has been useful for gathering the arts, humanities, and social sciences around environmental questions, Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene asks us not only diagnose problems but to embrace our roles as technoscientific fabulists and learn to tell stories that strengthen ecological response-ability in a world characterized by ongoing environmental irresponsibility that is both appallingly murderous and spectacularly profitable."
  — Martha Kenney, Science & Technology Studies

"Haraway is probably as aware as a writer can be that what she has to offer at the moment is nowhere near enough to engage with all the ‘trouble’ that needs to be engaged with. All she can do, she seems to be saying, is to stay with it a while, worrying at the very edges of her capacity, and then pass it on. ‘We need each other’s risk-taking support, in conflict and collaboration, big time,’ is how she ends that infamous two-page endnote. ‘The answer to the trust of the held-out hand’, as she also puts it. ‘Think we must.’" — Jenny Turner, London Review of Books

"Conceptually and ... stylistically compelling, there are many productive ideas and fascinating examples within its pages." — Leila Riszko, Kelvingrove Review

"[Haraway's] newest work is a guaranteed conversation starter for sf scholars in any number of disciplinary fields." — Miranda Butler, Science Fiction Studies

"This is a text that embraces presence and alert attention to this moment — sticking it out in the here and now to trouble the waters of entrenched capitalist models that collectively contribute to ongoing destruction of the very systems that sustain us in all their rich and challenging complexity. Inspiring, to say the least. And we are in deep need of it." — Julie Poitras Santos, The Chart

"Staying with the Trouble is a kind of Whole Earth Catalogue of thought devices for attuning our senses to the damaged ecosystem of the still-blue planet. It makes It makes inspiring and imaginative use of science fiction, art projects, geology, evolutionary theory, developmental biology, science and technology studies, anthropology, environmental activism, philosophy, feminism, horticulture, linguistics, pigeon fancying, and many other ways of thinking and knowing about ourselves, our worlds, and the many imbricate relations through which life on earth comes into being and dies." — Sarah Franklin, American Anthropologist

"The book enacts different forms of analysis and activism. It is not only that the book transcends disciplinary boundaries of biology, sciences studies, art history, philosophy and dense descriptions of political activism most often found in social sciences. These approaches are interwoven in a very rich and exquisite manner for which the author is well known."
  — Waltraud Ernst, Angelaki

"In advancing an approach that is at once hopeful but grounded, attuned to the realities of history but open to the possibility of alternative futures—in other words, in adamantly insisting on 'staying with the trouble' of the present—Haraway provides a ray of light in an otherwise- gloomy world of Anthropocene scholarship." — Leah Aronowsky, Endeavor

"Staying with the Trouble offers a glimpse of the newer paths [Haraway] is travelling with her formidable analytic and imaginative skills." — Catriona Sandilands, Annals of Science

"For anthropologists Haraway’s book will read as an invitation to think and write in terms that allow for symbiosis throughout.... Readers may not find clear road maps that guide them to struggle for more just flourishings or to understand the powerful and violent articulations of economies and ecologies in the Capitalocene. But they will perhaps rethink and expand the diverse relationalities that constitute the very preconditions of collective action. This is an invitation both to theorize and to make unexpected collaborations." — Caterina Scaramelli, American Ethnologist

"Haraway’s kinships offer a brave opening in feminist theory.... Haraway has a long history of making brave moves—and winning feminism over." — Paulla Ebron and Anna Tsing, Feminist Studies

"Ceaselessly and creatively questioning the kinds of stories that we tell about the relations of science to society and nature (and their endlessly complex and partial interrelations), this volume troubles relations of all kinds." — Luis Campos, Quarterly Review of Biology

"Staying with the Trouble is a worryingly pleasant read. . . . The merit of the book is therefore, oddly, that it does not succeed in fully taking away desperation and fatalism, and that it does not shy away from combining debatable traditions. In this way, it allows for multiple feminist interventions at the limits of Western science and philosophy. And it may be through affirming such philosophical ‘systems failure’ that the ‘anthropos’ may finally be dethroned."
  — Ingrid M. Hoofd, Feminist Review

"Haraway engages the feminist techno-scientific thinkers and ideas that have always marked her work, as she stays with different sticky, murky, complicated practices and companions, laying out the ethical dilemmas presented on a damaged planet and making suggestions about how we are to navigate them. . . . The book will likely continue to have wide impact and influence on the fields of feminist science studies, eco-criticism, and the Anthropocene/Capitalocene/Chthulucene." — Alison Sperling, Europe Now

"Staying with the Trouble is also where Haraway most prominently brings art into the entanglement of biology and activism, in what Haraway refers to as 'art science worldings.' The resulting text is one that affirms science and creativity as one in the same web of intrigue and possibility, which offers exciting opportunities for artists to explore and engage." — Shannon Lee, ArtSpace

"A poetic and reference riddled ride, [Haraway's] latest work, like the work that precedes it, does not disappoint. . . . An absorbing page turner." — Paul Hansen, Anthrozoös

"Haraway’s emphasis on the power of storytelling and the need to radically alter the kinds of stories we tell should be required reading for all academics, artists, and activists committed to finding more ethical ways to live and die well. . . . Haraway’s multiple SF figurations and her clarion call for response-ability are timely, necessary, and contagious forms of thinking, acting, living, and surviving." — David R. Anderson, Feminist Formations

"Sticks with the reader, proffering unfinished stories and vital lessons. . . . Staying with the Trouble is not a text of hard lines or neat takeaways. It is soft, suggestive, and entangling." — Will McKeithen, Gender, Place & Culture

"Haraway has successfully made the debate around the Anthropocene more complex by bringing in alternative paths. The book has – through SF practices – contributed to building a habitable earth in times of sustained trouble." — Julian R. A. Swinkels, Social & Cultural Geography

"As always [Haraway's] work is capacious, sharp, inventive, and informed." — Kyla Tompkins, American Quarterly

"Taken together, the myriad arguments, claims, and speculations return time and again to the anything-but-simplicity of Haraway’s title: the point of all this 'tentacular thinking' (30-44) is that we cannot plead out of the conditions of precarity in which we find ourselves or the processes which have accelerated and unevenly distributed that precarity, but that instead we must strive to live and die together towards a future that we make ourselves in this thick present." — Jesse A. Goldberg, ASAP/Journal

"As someone who has spent many years thinking about how we could live on Mars, I can assure you that there is no planet B. Adjusting ourselves and our society to the planet we actually live on will require us to create and enact a new structure of feeling. The feminist theorist Donna Haraway urges us to take care of our animal cousins in her provocative study Staying With the Trouble. We must establish enduring relationships between generations and species, she argues, and recognise that an improved political economy is both necessary and possible."
  — Kim Stanley Robinson, The Guardian

"Staying with the Trouble is written with love and rage, making it felt what it takes not to turn one’s back against the demands of this terrible time which some dare to call the Anthropocene. Donna J. Haraway mobilizes the power of words, images, and tales to shake off the dual temptation of faith in providential technofixes and of bitter 'game over' pseudo-wisdom. Her book forcefully demands that we consent to participate in the ongoingness of the world." — Isabelle Stengers, author of In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism

"Donna J. Haraway asks how to think-with, live-with, and be-with other planetary organisms in a world that does not forget how much ecological trouble it is in. This is not to lament at the world's destruction, but to see afresh what the possibilities of life have always been. Staying with the Trouble is at once a compelling sequel to a series of major works, a manifesto full of intellectual energy to put beside her famous Cyborg Manifesto, and at the same time only a momentary resting place in a life still committed to making us think." — Marilyn Strathern, Cambridge University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Donna J. Haraway is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of several books, most recently, Manifestly Haraway.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations  ix
Acknowledgments  xi
Introduction  1
1. Playing String Figures with Companion Species  9
2. Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene  30
3. Sympoiesis: Symbiogenesis and the Lively Arts of Staying with the Trouble  58
4. Making Kin: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene  99
5. Awash in Urine: DES and Premarin in Multispecies Response-ability  104
6. Sowing Worlds: A Seed Bag for Terraforming with Earth Others  117
7. A Curious Practice  126
8. The Camille Stories: Children of Compost  134
Notes  169
Bibliography  229
Index  265
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