Humans and Non-Humans

Companion Species

The first book on our reading list for the Humans & Non-Humans class is Donna Haraway’s (2003) “Companion Species Manifesto.” This short book is comprised of a long essay considering the culture and politics of dog keeping, dog training, and dog breeding. As always, Haraway is at pains to show the interrelatedness of human and non-human worlds and she uses the evidence of this interrelatedness to make her case for the conceptual work done by the category ‘naturecultures’.

A still from Fabrizio Terranova’s documentary, “Donna Haraway: Storytelling for Earthly Survival” (2016). Image via

Meaning that she looks at humans and dogs as mutually constitutive beings, as we have evolved over time to be companions, and to consider not only the history, but also the politics of that entanglement, and, crucially, she wants to help us see how we often reproduce gender power and patriarchal ideology through those relationships. She wants to call for interspecies feminist solidarity and the recognition of our mutual love and need for each other as an ethical question that can guide our action towards the natural world that includes, but is not only the province of the human. Check out the three videos below, where I respond to student comments and questions about this reading.

Have you also read this text? If so, please leave the class a comment below and share with us your favorite quote or how this book has shaped your relationship to non-human others. Thanks!