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Ecogender & Sustainable Development: exploring a renewed theoretical framework for the women-nature nexus in development studies Mariah Acton Spring 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Ecogender & Sustainable Development: exploring a renewed theoretical framework for the women-nature nexus in development studies Mariah Acton Spring 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ecogender & Sustainable Development: exploring a renewed theoretical framework for the women-nature nexus in development studies Mariah Acton Spring 2009

2 Presentation Outline Context: Women & Development Context: Women & Development Research Questions & Thesis Statement Research Questions & Thesis Statement Converging Trends Converging Trends Theoretical Antecedents: Theoretical Antecedents: –Ecofeminism –Feminist Political Ecology Theoretical Proposal: Theoretical Proposal: –Ecogender Conclusion: Ecogender & Sustainable Development Conclusion: Ecogender & Sustainable Development Questions & Discussion Questions & Discussion Future Research Directions Future Research Directions Sources Sources

3 Women & Development Women in Development (WID), early 1970s Women in Development (WID), early 1970s Women and Development (WAD), early 1980s Women and Development (WAD), early 1980s Sustainable Development, 1987 Brundtland Report Sustainable Development, 1987 Brundtland Report Gender and Development (GAD), late 1980s Gender and Development (GAD), late 1980s Women, Environment, & Development (WED), early 1990s Women, Environment, & Development (WED), early 1990s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDG), 2000 “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women” – Kofi Annan

4 Research Questions How do we best conceptualize the relationship between women and nature? How do we best conceptualize the relationship between women and nature? What is the appropriate role of women/gender in sustainable development? What is the appropriate role of women/gender in sustainable development?

5 Thesis Statement to properly situate the role of women in development it is necessary to critique common theoretical frameworks to properly situate the role of women in development it is necessary to critique common theoretical frameworks prominent current frameworks—ecofeminism and feminist political ecology—fail to accurately conceptualize this relationship prominent current frameworks—ecofeminism and feminist political ecology—fail to accurately conceptualize this relationship “ecogender studies” 1 is put forth as an alternative theoretical framework for conceptualizing the women-nature nexus in development “ecogender studies” 1 is put forth as an alternative theoretical framework for conceptualizing the women-nature nexus in development [1] The term “ecogender studies” was first put forth by Damayanti Banerjee and Michael Mayerfield Bell in a 2007 article in Society and Natural Resources; this paper utilizes their work but attempts to further elaborate their initial suggestions for ecogender as a new avenue in environmental social science.

6 Converging Trends Challenging the Culture/Nature Binary Developmentalism Developmentalism –Communism alternative –Global market Environmentalism Environmentalism –the Enlightenment –Industrial Revolution Feminism Feminism –Public/private sphere –1 st, 2 nd, and 3 rd wave

7 Post-Structuralism: Overcoming Value Hierarchies & Dualisms Culture / Nature Male / Female Public / Private Human / non-Human Reason / Emotion Mind / Body Objective / Subjective Production / Reproduction Rationality / Intuition Active / Passive Competition / Cooperation Subject / Object

8 Presentation Outline Context: Women & Development Context: Women & Development Research Questions & Thesis Statement Research Questions & Thesis Statement Converging Trends Converging Trends Theoretical Antecedents: Theoretical Antecedents: –Ecofeminism –Feminist Political Ecology Theoretical Proposal: Theoretical Proposal: –Ecogender Conclusion: Ecogender & Sustainable Development Conclusion: Ecogender & Sustainable Development Questions & Discussion Questions & Discussion Future Research Directions Future Research Directions Sources Sources

9 Identified key components of a theoretical framework Philosophical Women’s Relationship to Environment Women’s Relationship to Environment Science & Knowledge Science & Knowledge Survival & Subsistence Survival & SubsistencePragmatic Rights, Responsibilities, & Decision-making Rights, Responsibilities, & Decision-making Social Movements & Empowerment Social Movements & Empowerment Scales: Local to Global Scales: Local to Global

10 Theoretical Antecedent: Ecofeminism (Ecological Feminism) Origins in the 1970s Origins in the 1970s –Derived from both global North and South Position: Position: The domination of women is inherently linked to the domination of nature; the oppression of one cannot be eliminated without also eliminating the oppression of the other.

11 Divergent Streams of Ecofeminism Spiritualist Ecofeminism (Biological/Cultural) Spiritualist Ecofeminism (Biological/Cultural) Mystical/innate connection between women and earth Mystical/innate connection between women and earth Shared reproductive capabilities Shared reproductive capabilities All women are the natural caretakers of environment All women are the natural caretakers of environment Historical Ecofeminism Historical Ecofeminism Historical-materialist relationship Historical-materialist relationship Feminist critique of science and rationalism Feminist critique of science and rationalism Scientific discourse has increased social tension and divisions between the genders over time Scientific discourse has increased social tension and divisions between the genders over time Social Scientific Ecofeminism Social Scientific Ecofeminism Rejects essentialism, recognizes a historical-materialist relationship based on gendered division of labor Rejects essentialism, recognizes a historical-materialist relationship based on gendered division of labor Focuses on experiential knowledge or situated science Focuses on experiential knowledge or situated science Questions underlying assumptions of modern ethics Questions underlying assumptions of modern ethics

12 Ecofeminism Women’s Relationship to Environment Women’s Relationship to Environment –Recognizes women have been the subordinated or exploited “other,” and acknowledges a wide array of explanations for this position. – Proposes to celebrate women’s connection to nature as a global force of female solidarity. Science & Knowledge Science & Knowledge –Reveals that modern science is neither gender nor politically neutral; questions science’s positioning of nature. –Advocates for replacing objective “view from nowhere” and “logic of domination” with an “ethic of care” or “embodied/relational” understanding of self. Survival & Subsistence Survival & Subsistence –Criticizes catch-up development for destroying localized survival bases in the pursuit of global material levels. –Claims that there can be no escape from necessity and due to historical roles, women have become more knowledgable about basic-needs.

13 Ecofeminism, cont. Rights, Responsibility, & Decision-making Rights, Responsibility, & Decision-making –Illuminates global disproportionality between rights and responsibilities, notes that development institutionalizes this inequality. –Reaction to granting of instrumental rights, insists that reform must challenge underlying assumptions and be holistic. Social Movements & Empowerment Social Movements & Empowerment –Reconsiders emancipation compared to freedom. –Promotes the spiritual connection and common global concerns; infers that women know better than men how to save the Earth, activates women as “saviors.” Scales: Local to Global Scales: Local to Global –Directly challenges the benevolence of globalization and the free world market; demonstrates neo-colonial connections. –Adopts “local resistance” and “bioregionalism.”

14 Theoretical Antecedent: Feminist Political Ecology Extension of political ecology Extension of political ecology –Rejection of apolitical understandings –Dual persona: hatchet/seed Primary tenets Primary tenets –Gender is a “critical variable” –Decision-making processes and access are key –Creation of ecologically-viable livelihoods –Interaction of scales –Chains of explanation and webs of relation

15 Feminist Political Ecology Women’s Relationship to Environment Women’s Relationship to Environment –Extrapolates historical-materialist relationship to incorporate concepts of multiple subjectivities and intersectionality –Considers gender a process of (re)performances, closely linked to gender identities derived from historical division of labor/livelihoods Science & Knowledge Science & Knowledge –Condemnation of universalist, rational science as an epistemological hegemony –Advocates for situated, contextual, and gendered environmental knowledge to form basis for more holistic modes of interactions between humans and environment Survival & Subsistence Survival & Subsistence –Recasts quality-of-live/survival dichotomy as global concern over ecological livelihoods –Emphasizes interdisciplinary “sciences of survival”

16 Feminist Political Ecology, cont. Rights, Responsibility, & Decision-making Rights, Responsibility, & Decision-making –Emphasizes gendering of types of rights and spaces, view as extension of historical divisions of labor and the public/private sphere dichotomy –Effects of gendered political and legal structures on access to and distribution/control of resources (ex: agrarian reform) Social Movements & Empowerment Social Movements & Empowerment –Identifies commonalities amongst multitude of global social- environmental movements; emphasizes diversity and unity –Examines the transformation of gender identities/roles through women’s participation –Moves away from a descriptive/reactive position, advocates for pragmatic engagement between academy and society Scales: Local to Global Scales: Local to Global –Adopts a multi-scale analysis to understand micro- and macro- level forces; extends to include the household scale –Explores construction of sense of place

17 Presentation Outline Context: Women & Development Context: Women & Development Research Questions & Thesis Statement Research Questions & Thesis Statement Converging Trends Converging Trends Theoretical Antecedents: Theoretical Antecedents: –Ecofeminism –Feminist Political Ecology Theoretical Proposal: Theoretical Proposal: –Ecogender Conclusion: Ecogender & Sustainable Development Conclusion: Ecogender & Sustainable Development Questions & Discussion Questions & Discussion Future Research Directions Future Research Directions Sources Sources

18 Proposal : Ecogender Studies Overcoming Old Obstacles Essentialist relationship Essentialist relationship Gender blind vs. women nearsighted Gender blind vs. women nearsighted Universalizing women (& their knowledge) Universalizing women (& their knowledge) Romanticizing pre-industrial cultures Romanticizing pre-industrial cultures Exploitation of feminine altruism Exploitation of feminine altruism Evangelism of female spirituality Evangelism of female spirituality Hesitant challenge to status quo Hesitant challenge to status quo Rural and local as target scale Rural and local as target scale Unidirectional: simplifies complex dynamics Unidirectional: simplifies complex dynamics

19 Ecogender Studies Women’s Relationship to Environment Women’s Relationship to Environment –Adopts a historical-materialist relationship with a focus on gendered divisions of labor and spheres –Emphasizes that “gender” is a perpetual process and does not exclusively mean women, must account for the role that men play as well –Embraces diversity and multi- subjectivities rather than romanticized, homogenized, or stereotypical views of either gender hemes/en/meat/gender.html

20 Ecogender Studies Women and Men’s Relationship to Environment Women and Men’s Relationship to Environment –Adopts a historical-materialist relationship with a focus on gendered divisions of labor and spheres –Emphasizes that “gender” is a perpetual process and does not exclusively mean women, must account for the role that men play as well –Embraces diversity and multi- subjectivities rather than romanticized, homogenized, or stereotypical views of either gender hemes/en/meat/gender.html

21 Ecogender Studies, cont. Science & Knowledge Science & Knowledge –Advocates for further understanding of the potential collaboration between TEK, IK, and Western science (male and female gendered) –Complete reformation of hierarchical and binary- based foundational philosophies Survival & Subsistence Survival & Subsistence –Emphasize food and nutritional security in industrial and pre-industrial areas –Incorporate an ethical dimension to our conception of food and natural resources, which utilizes a wide range of knowledge systems

22 Ecogender Studies, cont. Rights, Responsibility, & Decision-making Rights, Responsibility, & Decision-making –Focus on deconstructing patriarchical structures that legitimize and maintain gender inequality –Reconstruct concept of privacy that veils power dynamics within the household Social Movements & Empowerment Social Movements & Empowerment –Avoid over-portraying feminine altruism and instead question assumptions of capitalism –Challenge traditional objectivity of academy, advocate for a proactive discipline Scales: Local to Global Scales: Local to Global –Incorporate urban settings and recognition of global forces on local food security (“webs of relation”) –Investigate the shrouded level of household

23 Conclusion: Ecogender & Sustainable Development Women and nature have a historical relationship, which has produced knowledge we need to be utilizing in this time of crisis Women and nature have a historical relationship, which has produced knowledge we need to be utilizing in this time of crisis This relationship is primarily due to a Western embedded system of binaries and hierarchies, esp gendered division of labor, which we have exported through colonialism and development This relationship is primarily due to a Western embedded system of binaries and hierarchies, esp gendered division of labor, which we have exported through colonialism and development Political systems and development strategies are created through underlying theoretical and ideological frameworks Political systems and development strategies are created through underlying theoretical and ideological frameworks It is necessary to rework these frameworks in order to improve sustainable development success rates It is necessary to rework these frameworks in order to improve sustainable development success rates One of the most important modifications is reconceptualizing the role of gender One of the most important modifications is reconceptualizing the role of gender …even if this makes a complex mess of things!

24 Questions? Discussion?

25 Future Research Directions Militarism & Peacebuilding (Fem IR) Militarism & Peacebuilding (Fem IR) Eco-spirituality & Environmental Ethics Eco-spirituality & Environmental Ethics Capitalism & Commons Theory Capitalism & Commons Theory Reinvigorating women’s studies Reinvigorating women’s studies

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28 Sources, III Nightingale, Andrea “The nature of gender: work, gender, and environment.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24: Nightingale, Andrea “The nature of gender: work, gender, and environment.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24: Okin, Susan Moller Women In Western Political Thought. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Okin, Susan Moller Women In Western Political Thought. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Plumwood, Val “Nature, Self, and Gender: Feminism, Environmental Philsophy, and the Critique of Rationalism.” Hypatia 6(1): Plumwood, Val “Nature, Self, and Gender: Feminism, Environmental Philsophy, and the Critique of Rationalism.” Hypatia 6(1): Redclift, Michael “Sustainable Development ( ): An Oxymoron Comes of Age.” Sustainable Development 13: Redclift, Michael “Sustainable Development ( ): An Oxymoron Comes of Age.” Sustainable Development 13: Resurreccion, Bernadette P, and Rebecca Elmhirst, eds Gender and Natural Resource Management: Livelihoods, Mobility, and Interventions. Ottawa: Earthscan. Resurreccion, Bernadette P, and Rebecca Elmhirst, eds Gender and Natural Resource Management: Livelihoods, Mobility, and Interventions. Ottawa: Earthscan. Robbins, Paul Political Ecology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Robbins, Paul Political Ecology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Rocheleau, Diane, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Esther Wangari Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences. London: Routledge. Rocheleau, Diane, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Esther Wangari Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences. London: Routledge. Rocheleau, Dianne E “Political Ecology in the Key of Policy: From Chains of Explanations to Webs of Relations.” Geoforum 39 (2): Rocheleau, Dianne E “Political Ecology in the Key of Policy: From Chains of Explanations to Webs of Relations.” Geoforum 39 (2): Rocheleau, Dianne, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Esther Wangari Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences. New York: Routledge. Rocheleau, Dianne, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Esther Wangari Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences. New York: Routledge.

29 Sources, IV Rodda, Annabel, ed Women and the Environment. New Jersey: Zed Books. Rodda, Annabel, ed Women and the Environment. New Jersey: Zed Books. Senghor, Jeggan C, and Nana K. Poku, eds Towards Africa Renewal. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company. Senghor, Jeggan C, and Nana K. Poku, eds Towards Africa Renewal. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company. Shiva, Vandana Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. London: Zed Books. Shiva, Vandana Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. London: Zed Books. Sontheimer, Sally, ed Women and the Environment: A Reader, Crisis and Development in the Third World. New York: Monthly Review Press. Sontheimer, Sally, ed Women and the Environment: A Reader, Crisis and Development in the Third World. New York: Monthly Review Press. Sturgeon, Noel Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory, and Politial Action. London: Routledge. Sturgeon, Noel Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory, and Politial Action. London: Routledge. Turpin, Jennifer, and Lois Ann Lorentzen, eds The Gendered New World Order: Militarism, Development, and the Environment. New York: Routledge. Turpin, Jennifer, and Lois Ann Lorentzen, eds The Gendered New World Order: Militarism, Development, and the Environment. New York: Routledge. Underhill-Sem, Yvonne “Why a feminist perspective is urgently needed in ecological issues and related social struggles of the time.” DAWN, December 9. (accessed March 18, 2009) Underhill-Sem, Yvonne “Why a feminist perspective is urgently needed in ecological issues and related social struggles of the time.” DAWN, December 9. (accessed March 18, 2009) Wangari, Esther, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Dianne Rocheleau “Gendered Visions for Survival: Semi-arid regions in Kenya.” In Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences, ed. Rocheleau, Thomas-Slayter, and Wangari. New York: Routledge, Wangari, Esther, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Dianne Rocheleau “Gendered Visions for Survival: Semi-arid regions in Kenya.” In Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences, ed. Rocheleau, Thomas-Slayter, and Wangari. New York: Routledge, Warren, Karen J. and Jim Cheney “Ecological Feminism and Ecosystem Ecology.” Hypatia: (1): Warren, Karen J. and Jim Cheney “Ecological Feminism and Ecosystem Ecology.” Hypatia: (1): Wells, Betty and Danielle Wirth “Remediating Development through an Ecofeminist Lens.” In Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, Wells, Betty and Danielle Wirth “Remediating Development through an Ecofeminist Lens.” In Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press,

30 Image Sources Intro painting: Intro painting: Sustainability: Sustainability: MDGS: MDGS: Man v Nature: Man v Nature: African women planting: African women planting: Madgascar men and women: Madgascar men and women: Peace: Peace: Capitalism: Capitalism: United Religions: United Religions: Questions image: Questions image:


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