Congratulations, messages and wishes!

A party is full of talk -- conversations, congratulations, reminiscences, story-telling. This is the place to share these, however you know Donna or her work, to let her know how her classes, or her writings, engagements, jokes and more, have altered our worlds! And a line or two of congratulation is as welcome as a fully told story!

May we encircle and recircle and recycle, gleaning from and sharing our days.


Anonymous said...

I have a six month old son. As I sit here to write, he is tugging at my tit. my teat. I feel myself "becoming animal" but not in the Deleuzian way, exactly. Donna has infected me with a mode of material specificity that I think nothing will ever be able to purge.

In a very real way Donna saved me. At least my intellectual me. When I came to HistCon to work with someone else -- a someone else with whom things didn't quite work out -- Donna emerged as the perfect person to work with in a way that I would have never expected. It is not that I didn't always know that she was amazing. Brilliant. Fantastic. It is that I was (am) a dyed in the wool psychoanalytic thinker. Oh no! I could have never imagined how my world would deepen and become so rich, without having to sacrifice any of my allegiance to Lacan, through the switch to Donna as my dissertation advisor.

I remember the first time that we met, properly. She was the moderator on a panel that I was on at 4S (with Natasha Myers and Harlan Weaver -- both fantastic Donna-students). I remember sitting, shyly, at the lunch before the panel where we first met, not feeling entirely in my place, not knowing exactly how she would react to my deeply psychoanalytic reading of Gunther von Hagens' Bodyworlds. I didn't know her. If I had, I would not have been surprised by the generosity and openness of spirit that she displayed in her commentary. I switched to her at the first possible moment and have never looked back. I finished my PhD this past summer and she is what I miss most -- a daily dose of her eyes, her hands gesticulating as she goes right for the gold in any conversation. But more than the joy of Donna as a person it is what Donna stands for in the academy that I am moved by: The care she embodies at every level of practice. The foundation of generosity and commitment that she asserts as the way to do academia. Her ethical attention to detail -- the detail of a department building practice, the detail of the pedagogical relation, the detail of the situated question, of the theoretico-material encounter, etc., etc... These are worth trumpeting from the heights, and in her students and those she has touched I see these traits propagated. And for that I cannot but be the most grateful. I want to walk in Donna's world forever. Not to embarrass her with a conflation of act and identity, but to claim the ethical bases of her practices as the way of the world as I want to inhabit it. And for this I am forever grateful, Donna. Forever.

Love, Natalie
(Natalie S. Loveless, Donna Student 2010)

kare o' the mountains said...

Words cannot come close to expressing the amount of love, respect, and gratitude I have for Donna ... but I will gesture briefly towards my appreciation. She has been and continues to be a great friend and a wonderful mentor.

Thank you, Donna, for modeling so many of the ways I try to be in the world. Some Haraway traits I try to reproduce in my own teaching include not only your generosity and kindness but also your commitments to the processes of learning and knowledge-making. Much appreciation also for queerly fabulous readings of Alfred Whitehead AND for recognizing the absolute importance of having a good sense of humor.

Karen deVries

val hartouni said...

Donna insists that the story I am about to tell is a fiction. I promise you it happened just as I am about to tell it...more or less.

When I was writing my dissertation some 20+ years ago, I would meet every couple of months to talk with Donna about my text, modest though it mostly was from meeting to meeting. And because there is only so much one can say about a modest collection of pages, we would turn to books-- this person argues this and that person, that....The hour would end and, feeling a renewed sense of purpose and excitement, I would say with great earnestness,"this dissertation is really going to be important!" And Donna each time would sit back in her chair and sometimes sigh, and say, "Well. No, not important. But it will be really interesting."

On these afternoons, I went off to therapy in an especially anxious state.

We had this very exchange several times....It wasn't that I was a masochist. I thought at the time that what made the text "only" interesting and not "important" was an anemic argument. And so I reasoned with each, more robust iteration of the argument, I might finally be nearing the neighborhood of important...But this was not the case. Each time, I suggested "important," Donna would counter with "interesting"-- until one afternoon, that is, when she sat up instead of back and asked in an uncharacteristically impatient fashion-- now I paraphrase-- "what's with this 'important' shit? Important will not see you through the writing of a dissertation or the living of a scholarly life; but what incites and interests you will."

Whoa. One doesn't write to matter; one writes because it--whatever "it" is-- matters to you.

This was a moment that rearranged my world.

Fast forward now a year and we are standing in the procession waiting for the graduation ceremony to begin, hoods in hand. Donna leans in and whispers her congratulations: "The work is so important" she says. And, honestly, I am in shock. But my pleasure is also deep. "No, no, not important," I respond. "Just interesting." And so it has been since.

val hartouni said...

Mattering: Part II

There is something very tidy about the story I've just told. And I suppose that is why-- or at least one of the reasons why-- Donna doubts it. Life is rarely so neat. And I'm inclined to agree, except that from these exchanges with her, as I remember them, I was offered a most generous gift, a way of thinking about or orienting myself in a world and profession that can both sometimes be disorienting and frankly just nasty. It was gift, unlike any other, and is something I offer my own graduate students when they land in my office with parts of a dissertation in hand, asserting its value and importance while doubting their own ability to rise to its occasion: "When I was writing my dissertation," I begin, "I would meet with Donna....." But of course, even as I'm telling this story to a student in the same knots I was once in, I do wonder if Donna taught me how to lean into the deep pleasure, surprise, and humor of thinking and writing in precisely the way I remember. For the sake of honesty in reporting, I now sometimes say that Donna insists these exchanges did not happen. But does it matter? Here is the gift that she gave me, that has made an intellectual life possible, I say. And I offer it to you, from her, through me if you want it.

sandra azerêdo said...

One day in the beginning of 1996, I came home to find in my answering machine a message from Donna saying that she was coming to Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro, for a conference and she would like to visit me in my hometown, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais.I had to listen to the message many many times not only to believe my ears, but mostly to enjoy the pleasure of hearing Donna's voice saying that she was coming to Belo. I immediately told all my Brazilian feminist friends about her visit and we started to make her visit official, to plan one or two lectures and a very good hotel where she could stay, etc. When I told Donna about our plans, she said that she was NOT coming as a lecturer but as friend and she wanted to stay in my house!!! This is so much the way this wonderful friend is!!! It was the most wonderful one week visit with Donna staying in my tiny appartment. Writing about all this, I still feel very moved and thanking god again and again that I went to HistCon and she was assigned as my advisor. In 1981 I was planning to study something related to identity and psychoanalysis and the first thing that Donna and Jim did in our first seminar was to explode the idea of identity without difference. I will never forget the immense feeling of relief that I felt after the seminar walking under those wonderful redwood trees on campus after that explosion of identity. Since I came back in 1986, I keep returning to Santa Cruz to renew my energies by being with her and I will be returning once again in June to be with her in that important party of her retirement from UCSC. Donna and Jim are friends who certainly made me a different and better person.

Mischa B Adams said...

I think this might have happened during Donna's visit to UCSC when she was being considered for the HistCon job. I know Katie King and I picked her up at the airport and drove her to campus.
I wish I could remember how that conversation we all had with Adrienne Zihlman outside the Kresge coffee shop actually went... all I can remember is that we were talking about Santa Cruz gustatory cannibalism -- the local custom of stewing up a new baby's placenta to celebrate the birth, with the added benefit that vegetarians could, if they chose, consume "un-killed meat" -- when somebody asked Adrienne whether we technically would be eating the mother's or the baby's cells. I think the funniest thing about it was Adrienne's answer, which I can't for the life of me remember, but which she gave in her typical dead-pan, un-shockable style. Wow, I really wish I had taken field-notes. Now I don't know whether any such exchange ever took place or whether I imagined it (or hallucinated it, which is probably more likely.)

kare o' the mountains said...

In 1999, I heard Donna give a talk at a UCSC Women's Studies anniversary occasion, and she recounted a story very similar to the one you just told, so if it was hallucinated or imagined, It must have been a group project.
Karen deVries

Katie King said...

Donna -- Congratulations on your retirement! May it be the occasion for new excitements, and to continue those long engaged in! I so look forward to seeing you in June.... Katie

(Katie King, HistCon 1987)

evaha said...

I have been struggling with how to say, “Thank you, Donna, for giving me the tools to see my world differently.” As a way of starting, I will share my appreciation in a series of short, fragmented comments. The first is a poem written while I was living in SC. At the time I was beginning to rethink my disciplinary knowledge about representation. How might language carry unmetabolizable sensuous substance of the object it represents, something more than indexicality; that is to ask, how do we feel the tentacularity of anemones in the word itself? And it was Donna that gave me the grammar and courage to ask such a questions.

Part 1:

David Shorter said...

Donna is an absolutely rare find in the academy. Her insights into dogs and how those insights shed light on humans, well, they have changed how I am. I appreciate her humor and her honesty when those two things are needed the most, whether across a conference table or across a dinner table. Her retirement is well deserved and a huge loss for future UCSC students. I was nothing short of blessed to be there when she was and to now call her my friend.

T.V. Reed said...

Everybody who reads her knows what a brilliant scholar Donna is, but more folks should know what a great teacher she also is. Great teachers teach you not to be like them but to be a better version of yourself. And in that regard Donna has been as great a teacher as I have known. I can think of so many times when I talked to her about my work, or heard her talk about a colleague’s work, and then listened carefully as she played back a version of it that was three times more interesting than what we’d said, but still nevertheless recognizably ours. I never had the feeling of having her ideas foisted upon me (how many of us have avoided that sin as teachers?), but rather of having a brilliant mind passing my ideas through and shining a dozen dazzling new lights upon them.

My favorite personal story about Donna was an odyssey that took place in 2001 in Eugene, Oregon. Donna was there to give a keynote talk at an environmental conference. My partner Noel Sturgeon, our son Hart, and I arrived to take part in the conference but especially to see Donna. When we met up with her, the usually unflappable Donna seemed a tiny bit flapped. We soon learned that some local luddites had been talking of stalking Donna in order to deposit a pie in her face, presumably empowered by a reductively stupid reading of A Manifesto for Cyborgs. Pissed about this, the three of us (pacifists all) appointed ourselves Donna’s unofficial body guards for a couple of her trips around the campus, including the walk to and from her keynote speech. On the way to the speech our son Hart waxed rhapsodic about our new shelter pup, Toast -- a hybrid (aka mutt) of multiple lineages including golden retriever, German shepherd and possibly a touch of border collie. Given her (then still somewhat private) canophilia, Donna was very attentive, and hopefully distracted from the possible meringue assault.

We arrived at the auditorium without incident, Donna took the stage and after the usual thank yous, began her keynote as follows: “I’d like to dedicate this talk to Hart Sturgeon-Reed and his dog TRASH.” Hart, though only 10 at the time, had a pretty good sense of how nice this was and understood that Donna was held in very high regard by his parents and thousands of others, so this lovely gesture was for him only mildly undercut by the misnaming of his dog (I suggested the slip came because Donna felt she was being trashed by her stalkers). Nevertheless, while walking back from the talk together, Hart couldn’t resist a comment. He thanked her for the dedication, then added “And I can tell people that the famous Donna Haraway trashed my dog.” Without a second of hesitation, Donna gently replied: “You do that and you’re toast.”

Well, the aforementioned pup is now old enough in dog years to retire (though we’re not sure what he’d be retiring from), and Donna, of course, is retiring. That’s a wonderful thing if it brings her more unstressed time to still produce great work at a more pleasurable pace. Many, many thanks and all the best for the future, Prof Haraway!

T.V. Reed

Marcos Becquer said...

Among the many things I have learned from you Donna, this is one of the most precious: You taught me to sit calmly with what I read, imbibe it, digest it, and let it nourish me so that I may flourish from it. Then and only then might I perhaps consider critiquing it. I was an impatient and dissatisfied reader before you came into my life, but through you I have come to realize that intellectual generosity is the best guarantor of intellectual honesty and free, original thought. You exemplify this, Donna, as well as practice and share it. I feel so blessed to have received this gift from you for in the end it is not just a way of reading, it is a way of living that would not be complacent but would still be satisfied in the world. Better put, it is a way of not just surviving but flourishing. Thank you Donna for all your support, and may you flourish even more brilliantly in your retirement!
Much love,
Marcos Becquer

Stefan Helmreich said...

If retirement is a retreat from the world, such seems actually to be usefully impossible — given that we know that there is not one world, but that there are many worlds, and, as Donna has taught us, many worldings. Messing with one of the key meanings of retirement, then, I wish Donna a happy swerve into a host of novel worldings — and thank her deeply for continuing to reconfigure my very sense of the possible in science and scholarship.

Stefan Helmreich

ifeinman said...

I first met Donna through Noël Sturgeon and Barbara Epstein at the Nevada Test Site, where their affinity group at the 1987 Mothers and Others Day Action was preparing to set a birth canal under the fenced border to enact civil disobedience: surrogate, disobedient birth for the life of the planet in the face of deathly practices. Donna was animatedly engaged with the ways that this birth canal represented birth and death and an amused approach to a deadly site. I was intrigued.

My most recent engagement with Donna was this fall in my classroom teaching “Feminist Theories and Methods” to a group of undergraduate juniors and seniors who have come to the CSU from marginal high school backgrounds and don’t imagine that they are of the caliber to “do” theory. In this context, I was teaching “Situated Knowledges” and drawing on my experience of teaching with and for Donna in the early 1990s. I could hear her in the front of the classroom, see her notes, see the field of her interconnected thoughts and intuitions as she spread ideas and contemplations -- hers and the students’ -- across the board, thinking out loud through feminist methodologies and what they might mean for survival.

In this context, I was doing what Donna ever did in the classroom, setting a narrative in motion and allowing my thought waves to mingle with the students’ and explore the ways we might interpret the world through the gift of our own and the shared written insights; in this case, Donna’s. Before it was fashionable to do so, Donna taught from the mindset that all students come to the classroom, or the dissertation writing (and we went there too), with assets from their own experiential knowledge that are critical components of the discovery process. With Donna, in the classroom and in my own writing, I learned to encounter and engage knowledges that were seemingly disparate, seemingly not “important” or just plain “other” wise in the canonical world and to find in them vistas of possibility for understanding the world. Always citing her own students in her work, and challenging us to go beyond our initial comfort zone for understanding and conceptualizing, Donna was/is the best kind of teacher. One who respects and engages her learning process with her students. I aspire to teach in this assets based and process oriented way, and I see how empowering it is for my students to see themselves as interested and interesting thinkers and visionaries; Donna gave me that precious gift. Thank you very much, Donna. It is an honor of the highest caliber to have been your student. Thank you very much.

Ilene Feinman

Maria said...

I went to Santa Cruz to work with Donna. Her work had become an intellectual, political and existential passion. After finishing our PhDs at the same time, me and a dear personal and political friend Sarah Bracke – feminist comrade in activism and today also fellow mommy – were both exhausted and fairly discouraged with academic futures in Europe. Frankly, at this time we didn’t want an academic job.
One afternoon we were once again discussing what to do with our lives. We were trying to think hard how it would still be possible to love our work. And we somehow came to the idea: OK let’s try an utmost unlikely thing before drifting away from academia. We looked into our heart desires for intellectual work. I came up with the wildest of dreams: to go to Santa Cruz and work in Haraway’s community. And Sarah wanted to work with Susan Harding, from the anthropology department in UCSC. So we both went for a grant that could make this possible, and miraculously, as I still think of it, it happened. A feminist fairy tale, no charming prince involved, two friends on a trip far west, at the end of a rainbow, hopefully we would meet wicked witches too.
In spite of their lushness my wild expectations were not disappointed, they were rather exceeded. Meeting and working close to Donna and her community marked radically my way. Donna has given me so much, taught me so many things by only being around her that I don’t know where to start unfolding my gratitude and love. She’s one of the liveliest and most generous people I have ever met. She opened her seminars and communities, she shared her enthusiasm without reserve, and she showed it was possible to be positioned and sharply ‘critical’ without no cruelty or cynicism. Her sense of humour is well-known and with her I discovered that even such a high level of intellectual achievement and recognition, as we can recognise hers is, needs not to go pairs with the egotistic deliriums it often brings with. Many of us who met her after having read her work share a wonder at discovering that she was yet more amazing as a person, teacher and mentor than she was as written word. I still find it difficult to grasp how she has managed to do caring and surely demanding, relational work with so many students who have come to her in all these years of working as an academic – and to combine this with ardent dedication to writing and research.

Maria said...

I’ll try to speak about one aspect of this encounter, about how my view of “academic life” shifted by being around her. One story dear to me is a conversation that marked me. After a year at UC Santa Cruz we were talking about my post-doc period, assessing it a bit. As always I felt I had not done enough. On the contrary Donna remarked that I had done something important, I had developed a good network of peers. The fact that I didn’t know what she was talking about shows how far I was from feeling familiar, or at ease, with academic professionalism: Peers? I was a bit puzzled about the word. Then, responding to my puzzled look, she started naming some people I had met and discovered their work during that year. A bunch of people with whom I felt at home – the “Donna offspring” as some of us like to joke about this eclectic connection. And I responded: “but those are friends”. This exchange is just one example of me realising how this woman has created community through her work. Academia and community rarely rhyme; they do in Donna’s worlds.
From being a place that I had to constantly struggle to accept as my work place, after Santa Cruz academia became just another place in need of people to create possibility, breathing spaces, reclaiming. Not that this is easy. I’m speaking from UK Academy Inc. where our time is measured in extremely managerial ways, time we spend with students controlled by accountants and sadly hilarious information systems, our “hours” classed in different boxes to facilitate “transparent accountability”. This is just another one thing that I learned from Donna, in theoretical and lived ways: to continue appropriating the meanings of such words as “accountability”, not simply to try to get away from its deadly effectuations, but to reclaim ways to be accountable of our interventions in the worlds we live in. Most of us work today in a very different academic context than the one Donna and her peers started their careers in, so we have different problems. But I do hope to find ways of perpetuating her passionate legacy, which is not only that of an individual but of a world of human and non human collectives she has worked to be accountable to. I strive to emulate her commitment to make ourselves worthy to the wondrous worlds we inhabit, to respond with joy to never-ending waves of impossibility and deadly injustice.
Donna cannot “retire”, she will be here differently, she’ll be somewhere out there feeding life. This thought reassures me. And the vivacious world she has woven together will keep bugging her! But I know this “retiring” move has been in the horizon for a while. I remember that just at the time when official retirement was about to offer her more time to do other things she accepted to be Chair of her department when it was going through a very difficult time. I do hope now she’ll have a great time doing whatever she’d like to do, have fun, lots of fun, more time with family and friends, researching and writing, or even just letting a happy farniente unroll.
In Spanish we have an interesting word for “retirement”, it suits Donna very well: Jubilación.
Dear Donna: I wish this new period of your life to be a jubilation – one more in a series of many, those you have generously shared with us and those that you’ll continue without any doubt making possible.

Happy Jubilations!!!

Thank you so much.

Katie King said...

Wishing to be there to Mess Around with everyone Donna! Here is Lindsay Kelley's and my contribution to all the fun!

Caren Kaplan said...

Dear Donna,

Sending warmest and best wishes for a joyful transition (hope it brings you toward the rewarding aspects of work and away from deadly meetings!). Thank you for all of the inspiration and substance you have brought my way over many years. Your arrival at HistCon was transformative for the program. I learned about things I had never ever thought about before--what more could anyone want from a brilliant teacher? And you modeled conscientious accountability--supporting me and writing letters for me for all of those years. I have tried to pass that along as best I can, always grateful for your help and advice. Wishing you much joy and happiness every day.
Love, Caren

Elena said...

Dear Donna,
As someone who left HistCon (dissertation wasn't even finished) to begin teaching full time some seventeen years ago, here is a truth I have learned: The lessons learned in a classroom with a truly great teacher will resonate within for years--even decades. Your work, your generosity, and your example continue to inspire me and I feel privileged to pass along what I have learned from you to my own students. What they tell me at the end of a class echoes what I still feel about your HistCon lessons: The world looks forever different.

I continue to be amazed and humbled by what I have learned from you, Jim, Angela, Hayden, Gary, and Teresa.

Thank you.
Elena Creef (HistCon '94)
Women's & Gender Studies
Wellesley College

Cybunny said...

What can you say about Donna? She is a marvel, a force of nature. Or is it a force of bracketed nature as a category? Tough call.

I could tell many stories about Donna, and about how important her work has been to me (my diss was called A Dissertation for Cyborgs). But let’s stay with a vignette: I live on the west side of Santa Cruz, and a few years ago I got a dog named Cliff (or Clifftopher, or just “wonder dog”). I walk him at a dog park that has a big off-leash area and a terrific trail and a wonderful community of dogs and dog people. One day I found Donna there, training her dog and chatting with other dog people. (I thought: do people know she is a superstar in disguise? Mild mannered Clark Kent who’s gonna hit that telephone booth and change into a cape-less purple Guatemalan supersuit?). And I suddenly got it: I’d stumbled into this very interesting community of humans and animals, and I found it shocking and exciting to be in another such community with Donna. In this case at least half of the members communicate by barking and running around in circles and begging for treats.

Come to think of it, not that different from academia, is it?

Mark Reinhardt said...

Dear Donna,

I took the feminist theory, science, and technology seminar in 1985, during my first year in HistCon. I never took another class with you--I was, at best, a modest_witness@the outer periphery of the program's feminist studies constituency--but I remain grateful for its continuing influence. I am amazed, looking back, to think of how often I have drawn on that seminar (ideas and pedagogical practices) in my now more than 20 years of teaching undergraduates. Thank you for that, and for all the great writing of course. I hope the party is as amazing as I expect it will be.

Mark Reinhardt

Sophia Rowley said...

I've been looking for some good samples of congratulation messages to congratulate my friend and I've stumbled in this page. Well, i think the best message is the one came from the heart. Thanks for the ideas. and Congratulations!

Jennifer Hennessy said...

Donna really made a difference in the field and out of it. People tend to have a great experience with her, and I think I also have with my phd dissertations. Even though she was not part of my committee or an adviser, she helped me a lot thru advices and motivation. Anyway, thank you and congratulation!