Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

M.A. Essay

First Advisor

James Dorsey

Second Advisor

Sujin Eom


This essay argues that Oshii Mamoru's 1995 animated film Ghost in the Shell, while indicating possible alliances with the political interests of cyberfeminism, ultimately advocates for the oppositional agenda of dialectical wholeness. Foundational texts of cyberfeminism, such as Donna J. Haraway's "A Manifesto for Cyborgs," have criticized narratives of isolation and a return towards a primordial wholeness implicit in Euro-American scientific culture. In the context of these texts, the cyborg symbolizes a departure from such narratives and guides the political project of reimagining epistemological boundaries. However, despite its apparent alignment with such projects, Ghost in the Shell dramatizes and promotes the return to wholeness in its biblical references and employment of marital imagery in its conclusion. Drawing from Haraway's critiques of Euro-American scientific culture, this essay identifies instances in which the film characterizes Motoko Kusanagi, its central cyborg figure, as the radical cyborg outlined in the "Manifesto." By leading Kusanagi through a psychoanalytically coded identity crisis that is resolved through a mythological pseudo-marriage, the film not only stands in opposition to cyberfeminism's central agenda, but it also neutralizes the political potential of the radical cyborg to complicate understandings of gendered, embodied subjectivities.