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Article

Gendered Organization Theory  

Jenny K. Rodriguez and Elisabeth Anna Guenther

Gendered organization theory refers to an understanding of organizations as sites that (re)produce gender dynamics and the gender order. Bringing the gender lens to discussions about organization theory is useful to capture the filter through which relational dynamics operate in organizations and the way these (re)construct the psychological, cultural, and social dimensions that shape the organization as a dynamic, relational, and interdependent structure. Key ideas associated with gendered organization theory center on gender as a social category that continues to be the basis for inequality in working life. Gendered organization theory pays particular attention to how gender interacts with different dimensions of social, political, economic, and technological life and how this is mobilized in organizations as well as how organizations foster and tackle new and reformulated gender(ed) inequalities. However, gender is not the only social category of difference that shapes inequality in organizations and would benefit from more explicit insight from feminist theories to unpack the complex dynamics in organizations and the impact they have on individuals. Focusing on intersectionality, decolonial feminism, ecofeminism, queering, and theorizing beyond the human provides a more integrated framework to understand the complex and fluid impact of gender in organizations.

Article

Ecofeminism and Global Environmental Politics  

Juliann Emmons Allison

Ecofeminism can be described as both an ecological philosophy and a social movement that draws on environmental studies, critiques of modernity and science, and feminist critical analyses and activism to explicate connections between women and nature, and the implications of these relationships for environmental politics. Feminist writer Françoise d’Eaubonne is widely credited to be the founder of ecofeminism in the early 1970s. Ecofeminists embrace a wide range of views concerning the causal role of Western dualistic thinking, patriarchal structures of power, and capitalism in ecological degradation, and the oppression of women and other subjugated peoples. Collectively, they find value in extending feminist analyses to the simultaneous interrogation of the domination of both nature and women. The history of ecofeminism may be divided into four decade-long periods. Ecofeminism emerged in the early 1970s, coincident with a significant upturn in the contemporary women’s and environmental movements. In the 1980s, ecofeminism entered the academy as ecofeminist activists and scholars focused their attention on the exploitation of natural resources and women, particularly in the developing world. They criticized government and cultural institutions that constrained women’s reproductive and productive roles in society, and argued that environmental protection ultimately depends on increasing women’s socioeconomic and political power. In the current postfeminist and postenvironmentalist world, ecofeminists are less concerned with theoretical labels than with effective women’s activism to achieve ecological sustainability.

Article

Gender, Nonhuman Animals, and Education  

Annie Schultz

Educational theorists are increasingly concerned with the areas of environmental education, ecological education, and animal studies. As social and political efforts to “go green” and make our industrial and personal habits more sustainable and ethical increase, schools as socializing agents take up these initiatives. Students already engage with nonhumans in significant ways in schools: they might interact with live nonhuman animals in extracurricular activities; they might dissect nonhuman animals in their science classes; they might eat the bodies of nonhuman animals at lunch; and they might read about literary or poetic representations of nonhuman animals in English classes. A continuously developing area of educational theory is how the ways in which students engage with nonhuman animals is gendered. Posthumanism and ecofeminism are philosophical paradigms that educational theorists engage with to think through the ways hierarchies of sentiency, humanity, and rationality are propagated by literary, cultural, and metaphorical representations of nonhuman others. There is a long history of women-animal comparisons that is evident in the literature and other cultural artifacts that we teach about in schools. Many students are also served animals as food in school cafeterias. Ecofeminist scholars and scholars of educational philosophy are likewise concerned with the gendered aspects of animal bodies as food and how the ontological representations of the bodies of women and their labor manifest in schools. Educational researchers are investigating these literary, metaphorical, and cultural comparisons.

Article

Performance Art, Performativity, and Environmentalism in the Capitalocene  

Jane Chin Davidson

Since the late 20th century, performance has played a vital role in environmental activism, and the practice is often related to concepts of eco-art, eco-feminist art, land art, theatricality, and “performing landscapes.” With the advent of the Capitalocene discourse in the 21st century, performance has been useful for acknowledging indigenous forms of cultural knowledge and for focusing on the need to reintegrate nature and culture in addressing ecological crisis. The Capitalocene was distinguished from the Anthropocene by Donna Haraway who questions the figuration of the Anthropos as reflexive of a fossil-fuel-burning ethos that does not represent the whole of industrial humanity in the circuit of global capital. Jason W. Moore’s analysis for the Capitalocene illustrates the division between nature and society that is affirmed by the tenets of the Anthropocene. Scientists Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer had dated the Anthropocene age to the industrial acceleration of the late-18th/mid-19th century but Moore points to the rise of capitalism in the 15th century when European colonization reduced indigenous peoples to naturales in their modernist definition of nature that became distinct from the new society. As material property, women were also precluded from this segment of industrial humanity. By the 20th century, the Euro-American system for progressive modernism in the arts was supported by the inscription of cultures that represented un-modern “primitivist” nature. The tribal and the modern became a postcolonial debate in art historical discourse. In the context of the Capitalocene, a different historiography of eco-art, eco-feminist art, and environmental performances can be conceived by acknowledging the work of artists such as Ana Mendieta and Kara Walker who have illustrated the segregation of people according to the nature/society divide. Informed by Judith Butler’s phenomenological analyses of performative acts, the aesthetic use of bodily-oriented expression (with its effects on the viewer’s body) provides a vocabulary for artists engaging in the subjects of the Capitalocene. In the development of performances in the global context, artists such as Wu Mali, Yin Xiuzhen, and Ursula Biemann have emphasized the relationship between bodies of humans and bodies of water through interactive works for the public, sited at the rivers and the shores of streams. They show how humans are not separate from nature, a concept that has long been conveyed by indigenous rituals that run deep in many cultures. While artists have been effective in acknowledging the continuing exploitations of the environment, their performances have also reflected the “self” of nature that humans are in the act of destroying.

Article

The Coloniality of the Scientific Anthropocene  

Vishwas Satgar

The discipline of International Relations is not at the cutting edge of dealing with planetary ecological problems such as the worsening climate crisis. The notion of the Anthropocene developed by earth scientists highlights the extent to which humans are a geological force shaping earth’s ecosystems. This official scientific discourse has gained traction in the United Nations climate negotiations process and is beginning to shape the knowledge project even in the academy. However, the discipline of International Relations has not engaged in any serious way with the Anthropocene discourse. Its claim that the Anthropos, the human as a species, and more generally 7.8 billion people on the planet are responsible causally for dangerous impacts such as climate change clashes with how the discipline of International Relations understands and seeks to explain global politics through its theoretical frameworks, relations, dynamics, and institutions. This claim warrants critical engagement from the International Relations discipline. However, mainstream International Relations epistemology reinforces coloniality in international relations such that an oppressive and relational hierarchy between the Global North and South is reproduced while being oblivious to how the ecological substratum of our lifeworld is being destroyed through replicating modes of living central to global modernity. Ecological relations are not part of mainstream International Relations thinking. Within mainstream International Relations, its hegemonic theories and frameworks are the problem. The conception of the international and international relations operating within the Anthropocene discourse also reproduces coloniality. Although the science it furnishes to understand the human–nature relationship is compelling and important, its human-centered explanation of how global power works is inadequate and reinforces the subordination of the Global South. To overcome these problems, a decolonized approach to the discipline of International Relations is crucial. At the same time, given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries in the Global South need to remake the world order and its future through decolonized International Relations. Several Southern decolonial thinkers are crucial for this task.

Article

Ecological Rhetoric  

Chris Ingraham

As the problems wrought by anthropogenic global warming have become more urgent, scholars of rhetoric have turned more than ever before toward environmental topics and ecological perspectives. These interests have influenced the contemporary study of rhetoric enough that it is now possible to identify some different yet overlapping strains of research at the nexus of ecology and rhetoric. Doing so, however, is not without ongoing contestations, including over the nature of ecological thought, expanding systems of rhetoric, environmentalisms, ecofeminisms, and critical eco-futures. Despite these challenges, rhetoric and ecology may pair so well together because each is a capacious figure of thought, capable of accommodating others. As a way of thinking about interconnectedness in particular, “ecology” has been taken up by many scholars in diverse fields and disciplines. As a result, the ways the concept is mobilized in studies of rhetoric reflect an unruly assortment of approaches to, and understandings of, ecology, the influence of which cannot be traced to any pure or universal version of the term, because, as with “rhetoric,” no such common meaning exists. Grappling with the complex convergence of both terms might help scholars to constellate a semi-stable image of what it can mean and involve to study these topics together.

Article

Ecofeminism, Religion, and the Arts in the West  

Jane Caputi

Since its inception in the 1970s, ecofeminism has maintained a persistent and extensive engagement with the arts. This manifests itself when theorists take up analyses of ecologically relevant worldviews enmeshed in works from the fine arts, literary texts, musical compositions, political activist art, and popular and commercial arts. Many writers, composers, and artists also produce ecofeminist works (implicitly or explicitly). The curator of the 2020 exhibit ecofeminism(s), Monika Fabijanska, lambasted “Western patriarchal philosophy and religions” that legitimate both misogyny and ecocide. In her view, “the foundation of ecofeminism is spiritual feminism, which insists that everything is connected . . . nature does not discriminate between soul and matter.” In the branch of ecofeminism that pays close attention to spirituality and religion, some seek to reclaim and/or generate an ecofeminist theology, often by invoking a non-heteropatriarchal and decolonial understanding of Mother Nature/Mother Earth as the original terrestrial force/source. This force/source contains female, male, and everything else, and holds powers of creation, destruction, transformation, and rebirth. Art historian Mary Garrard observes that Western culture demoted Nature from a “power” to an “environment.” Arguably, this has been to eliminate a rival, as the ruling notion of God is purely male, a father, heavenly, transcendent, the sole and omnipotent creator, and, as prophesied in the New Testament, the ultimate righteous destroyer of the elements and Earth. Ecofeminism has evolved to become more pointedly anti-essentialist, intersectional, and decolonial as it makes connections between men’s violence against women (including both trans and cis women) and other marginalized peoples and the treatment of land, animals, plants, and elements. Ecofeminist theorists and artists demand total social, political, and spiritual transformation. Many also acknowledge that the active and intelligent life force/source (sometimes called Mother Nature/Mother Earth) is changing irrevocably in response to the egregious actions of some humans. What is especially apparent in the fusion of ecofeminist and Afrofuturist perspectives is that the exigencies of the current environmental crisis demand awareness that nature is and always has been the “power,” including the power that is understood as God.

Article

Ecological Social Work  

Uschi Bay

Ecological social work requires a shift in thinking for social workers because it does not place humans at the center of its concerns. Rather, ecological social work puts the interrelationship between humans and nature at its center. This radically de-centered view of humanity aims to bring consideration of the planet and all of its environmental systems into decision-making to ensure the sustainability of natural resources for the long term. Ecological principles can guide social work practice, research, and education in ways that promote a transition to sustainable practices in every sphere of life. Widespread ecological consciousness is advocated as an important focus for change by some social work authors promoting this approach. A global consciousness is understood to enable humanity’s capacity to deal with the growing concerns about the survival of planet Earth as a suitable habitat for humans, animals, and plants. Humanity’s activities are understood to contribute to the ongoing degradation of fresh water, fertile soils, and pollution of the atmosphere. Drastic changes in the way humans behave and relate to the Earth are considered necessary at the global, national, and local levels. Social workers are thus called on to engage with others in taking on significant roles in many areas of practice to facilitate these crucial societal transformations.

Article

Latina/o Environmental Justice Literature  

Kamala Platt

Latina/o environmental justice literature, prompted by organizing against environmental racism and for ecologically linked social responsibility, emerges in the late 20th century, but environmental justice literary interpretation and critical theory examines texts from any period of Latina/o literature, engaging the nexus of nature, culture, and environmental degradation and justice. Latina/o environmental justice literature includes many genres (fiction, poetry, nonfiction, memoir, testimonio, and performance art, to name a few) and has umbilical connections to a large body of lived experience, longstanding theory and praxis, traditional environmental knowledge (TEK), and environmental justice movement activism. This body of literary poetics that followed the emergence and naming of the environmental justice movement in the 1980s had precursors in the cultural poetics of the civil rights movement and related struggles for justice, equality, nonviolence, feminisms, human rights, and environmental protection. Antecedents to Latina/o environmental justice literature are found in oral literature, pre-Columbian texts, and subsequent Latina/o writing. Definitions of environmental justice within the context of the burgeoning environmental justice movement in the latter decades of the 20th century contribute to interpretations of the literature from this period forward. The last decades of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century saw environmental justice themes emerge in many genres, and Latina/o literature made significant contributions to the broader field. Studies of cultural poetics of environmental justice contributed to that diversity. Contemporary environmental justice literary scholarship summarizes past approaches, traces ongoing work, and offers future directions—redefining and rebirthing environmental justice and climate justice poetics, given global warming and resulting climate change.

Article

Ecofeminism and Education  

Jennifer Hatten-Flisher and Rebecca A. Martusewicz

Ecofeminism is a theoretical, political, and educational movement that draws specific parallels between the domination of women and other marginalized groups, and the degradation of nature. While much of ecofeminist thought is focused on examining the interconnectivity between social and environmental injustices, ecofeminism is as vast and varied as its feminist and ecological roots. Yet, ecofeminism is not without its critics. After being widely accused of essentializing women’s relationship with nature, the term fell out of favor with a lot of scholars in the 1990s. Those who have remained loyal to the term have argued that this was an unfair mischaracterization of the larger foundational ideas within ecofeminist work. Given the global environmental and social crises currently sweeping the planet, ecofeminism offers important, albeit diverse, theoretical, practical, and pedagogical perspectives for developing effective responses to such interrelated crises. As such, scholars across a variety of disciplines are revisiting (and reclaiming) ecofeminist thought. In the field of education, ecofeminism is influencing the ways that we approach questions of justice by offering an intersectional framework that insists on recognizing the interconnected roots of racism, sexism, poverty, ablism, and other social problems with ecological degradation. An ethics of care is woven throughout to form the basis of a pedagogy of responsibility whereby students learn to both critique these cultural foundations of violence and identify practices and relationships that help to create healthy sustainable communities.

Article

Feminist Perspectives on the Environment  

Sonalini  Sapra

The field of gender and environmental studies deals with the ways that gender roles shape the access to and management of resources. From being dominated by old debates on whether the earth is our mother goddess or whether women are inherently closer to nature than men, gender and environmental studies has evolved into a largely activist-informed and materially-focused discipline. Feminist perspectives are now being articulated in a variety of wide-ranging themes and issues such as environmental justice, global climate change, population debates, disasters, water, and militarization. The main feminist perspectives for studying women and the environment can be divided into two “umbrella” groups: the “ecofeminist” camp and the “materialist” camp. The ecofeminist group argues that there is an “innate” connection between domination of nature and the oppression of women and that there exists a system of patriarchy in human society that leads to the domination of the “Other.” The materialist camp rejects this claim. It makes use of two approaches, feminist environmentalism and Feminist Political Ecology (FPE), to contend that women’s oppression is rooted in structural and material inequalities. Some of these feminist perspectives, including ecofeminism and feminist environmentalism, are applied by the field of Gender, Environment, and Development (GED) to the environmental policy domain. Three transnational environmental organizations doing GED work are GenderCC—Women for Climate Justice, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), and Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era (DAWN).

Article

American Nature Writing  

John Elder

Nature has, like love, been an essential topic for authors in every language and every literary form. The first thing to acknowledge about the term nature writing is that it conventionally refers to a distinctive category of nonfiction, not to the entire spectrum of literature about the natural world. The present survey is further restricted to American nature writing, though the genre has also developed in many other countries. The American lineage of nature writing has been especially influenced by the work of Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), who combined journal-based descriptions of the New England landscape and knowledgeable appreciation of science with lyrical prose, receptiveness to nature’s human and transcendent meanings, and a highly personal voice. Thoreau’s own orientation to solitude, wildness, and the music of nature has also been complemented, however, and in some cases forcefully challenged, by subsequent writers focusing on urban landscapes; environmental justice; the impact of gender, class, and race on our visions of nature; environmental justice; food and agriculture; and material culture. Many literary scholars also now prefer to consider nature writing under the multi-genre and international rubric of “environmental literature.” Nevertheless, this particular form remains a vital model for integrating imaginative literature with close observation of natural phenomena. Today’s writers continue to find, with Thoreau, that books “with earth adhering to their roots” may blossom in the human spirit, revitalizing individual lives even as they also address the urgent environmental and cultural challenges we now confront.

Article

Ecological Framework  

Alex Gitterman, Carel B. Germain, and Carolyn Knight

Ecological concepts and principles enable social workers to keep a simultaneous focus on people and their environments and their reciprocal relationships, not only in direct practice with individuals, families and groups, but also in influencing organizations and communities and in policy practice. Ecological concepts emphasize the reciprocity of person:environment exchanges, in which each shapes and influences the other over time. Ecological concepts are reviewed.