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GAF Lockdown reading group discusses: ecofeminism

2 July, 2020 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Our aim with these meetings is to discuss different subjects each time so it is not necessary to have joined a previous session to participate. Before each meeting we will share a variety of readings of different lengths and types to give some background information on the subject to be discussed. Participants are invited to pick and choose what they would like to read in preparation. No prior knowledge of any of the subjects is necessary as our aim is to make these events as inclusive and broad as possible.

In this reading group session we will be discussing ecofeminism and what we can learn from it. Ecofeminism as a term and discipline in feminism was used mainly in the 1980s and 1990s. In the 1990s it fell out of use due to backlash from the mainstream feminism of the time that falsely accused its proponents of being essentialists and didn’t consider environmentalism relevant to the feminist movement. In order to continue to be read and published many ecofeminists after that time stopped using the term ecofeminism, while still continuing to write about the same themes, broadening them even more.

Join us as we discuss the questions:

  • What is the relationship between patriarchy and colonialism and human domination over nature? How can we change our anthropocentric point of view?
  • How is climate change a gendered issue? What can strands of ecofeminist thought teach us about our solutions to climate change and the ways we should enact them?
  • What are some examples of gendered language used to describe nature, and animalised language used to describe women and indigenous peoples? How might this language shape the way we perceive nature, women and indigenous and minority people?
  • Is it possible to return to the model of subsistence production? What practical steps can we take to disassociate human happiness from material consumption?
  • What critiques would we make of contemporary mainstream environmental ethics and anti-capitalist activism? What messages can we take from ecofeminist writings that could inform our activism?

We would like to remind you that you don’t need to do all the readings (especially since the list is so large this time), just pick and choose the ones you want to do. We would highly recommend doing as much of the reading as you are up to in preparation. We would also recommend picking from both the basic readings and the advanced readings sections.

Please note that we do not subscribe completely to all the opinions expressed by the authors of these texts, but we do consider they offer a useful and fruitful perspective and lend themselves as the basis for an interesting analysis and discussion. Also please take note of the publishing dates of some of these texts as they can use terms that are no longer in use and other contemporary terms we are now used to had not been coined yet, or were not broadly used yet.


Basic reading list

  • VIDEO Defining Ecofeminism with Greta Gaard (2019)
    • A brief definition of ecofeminism. (7min)
  • VIDEO Ecofeminism Now! by Greta Gaard (1996) (recommended)
    • Ecofeminism Now! weaves together interviews with feminist eco-activists and scholars. These women activists work for environmental justice for women, animals, and earth through spiritual and economic-political activism. (37min)
  • TEXT ‘Ecofeminism’: a talk about hard work and great joy – ROAR Magazine (2014) (recommended)
    • An interview with Maria Mies about patriarchal capitalism, subsistence production and ecofeminism.
  • VIDEO PART1 PART2 Gender Justice and Climate Justice: Making the Connections by Greta Gaard (2014) (recommended)
    • Gaard describes 21st-century “anthropocene feminist” responses to climate change, arguing that a feminist approach to climate change analyses and solutions is necessary in order to tackle the three antifeminist threads associated with the scientific response to climate change: the linked rhetorics of population control, anti-immigration sentiment, and increased militarism. (49min +34min)
  • VIDEO Growth = Poverty by Vandana Shiva (Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2013) (recommended)
    • Shiva discusses what is wrong with the GDP and how growth is making us poorer. (60min)
  • TEXT Roots: Black ghetto ecology by Wilmette Brown (1983) [missing page] (recommended)
    • Making the links between racism, sexism, poverty, environmentalism and health.
  • TEXT Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India by Vandana Shiva (1988)
    • Ch.4 (pp55-95) Women in the forest (recommended)
      • An analysis of the importance of forests for the life and survival of local people in India as well as the preservation of the climate and how that has been threatened by British colonialism, capitalist development and the privatisation of the commons. An introduction to the inspiring Chipko movement of the Indian hill regions, the first activist movement to save forests.
  • TEXT Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature ed Greta Gaard (1993)
    • Ch.2 (pp13-59) Ecofeminism: Linking theory and practice by Janis Birkeland (recommended)
      • In depth analysis and critique of the various masculinist mainstream (or Manstream) theories of ecological thought and why the only solution is to overthrow all androcentric cultures.

Further reading list

  • TEXT Patriarchy and accumulation on a world scale by Maria Mies (1986)
    • Ch.3 (pp74-111) Colonization and housewifization
      • Historical analysis of how and why women in the global North were housewifized while women (and men) in the global South were colonized and how that has affected their relation to labour and the land.
    • Ch.4 (pp112-144) Housewifization International: Women and the new International Division of Labour (recommended)
      • Analysis of the contemporary (end of the 20th century) changes made to women’s (and men’s) relationship to labour and consumption as caused by the globalisation of the market and the new needs of the capitalist economy.
    • Ch.7 (pp205-235) Towards a feminist perspective of a new society
      • Description of the kind of society the author believes we should aim for and a sketch proposal for how it can be achieved.
  • TEXT Ecofeminism Revisited:Rejecting Essentialism and Re-Placing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism by Greta Gaard (2011)
    • A detailed and in depth analysis of the history of ecofeminism as well as the backlash against it in the 90s that erroneously discredited it. (Useful for finding authors of further reading about specific topics of ecofeminism)
  • VIDEO Ecofeminism and the decolonization of women, nature and the future by Vandana Shiva (2020)
    • Shiva, an Indian scholar, author and environmental activist, talks about how covid-19 is only a small part of a much larger picture. (53min)
  • VIDEO Ecofeminism as politics by Ariel Salleh (2017) (recommended)
    • Salleh, an Australian activist, theorist and teacher in the field of eco-feminism, gives a summary of the history of eco-feminism and talks about an integrative understanding of our world, its multiple processes and crises, and possibilities for change in the post-development era. (1h23min)
  • TEXT Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature ed Greta Gaard (1993)
    • Ch.6 (pp146-166) Questioning Sour Grapes: Ecofeminism and the United Farm Workers Grape Boycott by Ellen O’Loughlin (recommended)
      • Making the links between syndicalism and environmentalism and why ecofeminists need to support unions and actions like the UFW grape boycott.
    • Ch.11 (pp272-294) A Cross-Cultural Critique of Ecofeminism Huey-li Li
      • A critique of some of the shortcomings of certain classical ecofeminist theories and their western centeredness.
  • VIDEO Marxism and ecofeminism by Ariel Salleh (2016)
    • Ecofeminists enjoin the efforts of socialist feminists in the 70s and 80s to situate women’s domestic labour in a Marxist problematic. An ’embodied materialism’ now complements that economic analysis of the space between capital and labour by focusing on the space between labour and nature. This shifts politics from an androcentric to an eco-centric frame. (30min)
  • VIDEO Partnerships with nature by Carolyn Merchant (2006)
    • An analysis of our relationship to nature and a proposal for a new partnership with nature. (37min)
  • TEXT The death of nature by Carolyn Merchant (excerpt, 1980)
    • Analysis of how we moved from viewing our world organically and nature as a nurturing mother to viewing it mechanistically and nature as something to be conquered.
  • TEXT The club, the yoke, and the leash: what we can learn from the way a culture treats animals by Aviva Cantor (1983)
    • An analysis of the ways that and the reasons why the patriarchy exerts violence and domination over animals, women and minorities.
  • TEXT Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India by Vandana Shiva (1988)
    • Ch. 1 (pp1-13) Development, Ecology and women
      • An analysis of how western patriarchal capitalism and colonisation has led to the impoverishment of the world and the destruction and exploitation of the South.
  • Why women will save the planet by Friends of the Earth (2015)
    • TEXT Women, conflict and the environment in Somali society by Shukri Haji Ismail Bandare and Fatima Jibrell
      • Interview with two Somali women who have been at the forefront of environmental activities since the early 1990s for whom the vital role of women and gender equality in environmental protection has been at the core of their work.
    • TEXT From individual to communal rights: empowering women for sustainable use of natural resources by Nidhi Tandon
      • An investigation into the eroding base of women’s security and empowerment in rural and informal sectors in some African countries between 2009 and 2014 and what can be done to combat it.

Recommendations for future further readings

  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962) link [partial book]
  • Woman and Nature by Suzan Griffin (1978)
  • Gyn/Ecology by Mary Daly (1978)
  • The death of nature by Carolyn Merchant (1980) link
  • Reclaim the Earth by Léonie Caldecott and Stephanie Leland (1983)
  • The rape of the wild by Andree Collard (1989) link1 link2 [partial book]
  • Breaking the Boundaries Towards a Feminist, Green Socialism by Mary Mellor (1992)
  • Feminism and the Mastery of Nature by Val Plumwood  (1993)
  • Ecofeminism by Maria Mies and Vendana Shiva (1993) link
  • Lavender’s Green? Some Thoughts on Queer(y)ing Environmental Politics by Catriona Sandilands (1994) link
  • Ecofeminism as politics: Nature, Marx and the postmodern by Ariel Salleh (1996 1st ed, 2017 2nd ed) link [partial book]
  • Undomesticated Ground by Stacy Alaimo (2000)
  • Material Feminisms by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman (2008) link [partial book]
  • Eco-sufficiency and global justice by Ariel Salleh (2009) link
  • Queer Ecologies: Sex, nature, politics, desire by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson (2010) link [partial book]
  • Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice ed. by Lisa A. Kemmerer (2011)
  • Climate chaos : ecofeminism and the land question ed. by Ana Isla (2019)

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2 July, 2020
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
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Green Anticapitalist Front London

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