What’s in A Number: Caryl Churchill’s Clones and Women in A Number as Harawayian Cyborgs

Karadağ Ö.

in: Different Voices: Gender and Posthumanism, Paola Partenza,Özlem Karadağ,Emanuela Ettorre, Editor, V&R unipress - Universitätsverlag Osnabrücks, Göttingen, pp.115-132, 2022

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Publisher: V&R unipress - Universitätsverlag Osnabrücks
  • City: Göttingen
  • Page Numbers: pp.115-132
  • Editors: Paola Partenza,Özlem Karadağ,Emanuela Ettorre, Editor
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


This chapter focuses on Caryl Churchill’s A Number, a domestic drama that revolves around cloning and the ethical questions that should go hand in hand with scientific and technological achievements in our androcentric posthuman age. While the play shows a number of clones, it deliberately avoids the existence of a female character on stage and places the audience in the realm of a man. The dystopian future Churchill imagines is founded upon the elimination of women and replacement of reproduction with science, where clones turn into the new marginalized beings of an androcentric worldview. Similar to Braidotti’s critique of posthumanism, clones serve as the products of “advanced capitalism” and androcentrism, created for male-oriented dreams such as reproducing companions without women or selfless slaves that will be instrumentalized, which eventually leads to the inevitable production of monstrous others as a dominant idea concerning non-human beings in science fiction. However, contrary to the popular idea, rather than the clones, human beings, more accurately men, are represented as monstrous by Churchill. Arguing that clones, as women, are gendered beings and feminized, marginalized, backgrounded, instrumentalized in a similar way, this chapter thrives to read the play in the light of Donna Haraway’s cyborg politics claiming that clones and women, as beings considered as non-human or less-than-human, are cyborgs in a Harawayian way. They are gendered and backgrounded by the dominant patriarchal system and male-centric science, while also being elusive for the androcentric worldview’s incapacity for an embodied, all-inclusive and respectful life, thus offering an alternative to the posthuman androcentrism.