Death, Innocence, and the Cyborg: Theorizing the Gynoid Double-Bind in Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence

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In Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” (1983), the author presents a discussion of the concept and praxis of the cyborg in emancipatory terms. Haraway presents the cyborg as a transgressive and latently mercurial figure that decouples and contravenes numerous exploitative ideological frameworks of repressive biopower that repress human being and reproduce the conditions of said repression. Using Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence (2004) as a dialogic case study, this essay explores the manner in which the cyborg, particularly its figuration as female-gendered anthropic machine or gynoid in 20th- and 21st-century science fiction, simultaneously confirms and contradicts Haraway’s assessment of the concept of the cyborg. As to its methodology, this essay opens with a contextualizing excursus on the cyber-being in contemporary Western society and sociopolitics, with a view to offering a framework analysis of the figuration of the gynoid in Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence as a recent example of contemporary science fiction’s representation of the issues and debates inherent to the concept of the gynoid. Lastly, this essay performs a detailed close reading of Oshii’s text in relation to its exploration of themes of the conceptual emancipatory potential of the cyber-being and the paradoxically exploitative patriarchal power relations that re-inscribe said potential within what this essay refers to as ‘the gynoid double-bind.’

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