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Ecofeminism: Our Roots and Flowering



This article is the text of the keynote address delivered by Charlene Spretnak at the international conference entitled “Ecofeminist Perspectives: Culture, Nature, and Theory,” University of Southern California, March 1987. It considers the recent emergence of the ecofeminist movement: its Roots (in the feminist critique of patriarchal culture; in ecological political engagement against the destruction of Earth’s ecosystems; and in interest, among some ecofeminists, in nonpatriarchal, nature-oriented spirituality) and its Flowering (the many ways in which ecofeminists engage with efforts to shift modern, technocratic society into a realization of the ecological dimension as central to all human endeavors and to postpatriarchal cultures.
... Historisch und ursächlich: Hierunter sortiert sie Arbeiten, in denen die aktuelle globale Umweltkrise als Ergebnis patriarchaler Kultur verstanden wird (z.B. Salleh 1988) und die Zeit davor entsprechend als matrifokale, friedliche, matrilineale Agrarära (Eisler 1990;Spretnak 1990;Lahar 1991). ...
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In recent years, online “involuntary celibate” or “incel” communities have been linked to various deadly attacks targeting women. Why do these men react to romantic rejection with not just disappointment, but murderous rage? Feminists have claimed this is because incels desire women as objects or, alternatively, because they feel entitled to women's attention. I argue that both of these explanatory models are insufficient. They fail to account for incels’ distinctive ambivalence toward women—for their oscillation between obsessive desire and violent hatred. I propose instead that what incels want is a Beauvoirian “Other.” For Beauvoir, when men conceive of women as Others, they represent them as simultaneously human subjects and embodiments of the natural world. Women function then as sui generis entities through which men can experience themselves as praiseworthy heroes, regardless of the quality of their actions. I go on to give an illustrative analysis of Elliot Rodger's autobiographical manifesto, “My Twisted World.” I show how this Beauvoirian model sheds light on Rodger's racist and classist attitudes and gives us a better understanding of his ambivalence toward women. It therefore constitutes a powerful and overlooked theoretical alternative to accounts centered on objectification and entitlement.
‘Peace ecology’ is a scientific approach that aims to build bridges between peace research and environmental studies. In 2000, Paul J. Crutzen introduced the Anthropocene as a new epoch of Earth’s history. Geologists still need to identify evidence in the sediments, e.g. from nuclear explosions and the testing of nuclear and hydrogen weapons in the atmosphere, that such a transition has actually occurred. Direct human interventions into the Earth System through the accumulation of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere have caused multiple societal impacts, resulting in rapid increases in production, consumption, urbanisation, pollution, migration, crises and conflicts. Peace ecology in the Anthropocene era of Earth and human history can be conceptualised on the basis of five conceptual pillars: peace, security, equity, sustainability and gender. This chapter develops ‘peace ecology’ in the context of the Anthropocene in ten sections. After a detailed conceptual introduction (2.1), the second Sect. (2.2) discusses five alternative starting points of the Anthropocene: the Agricultural or the Industrial Revolutions, the Columbian Exchange, the Nuclear era and the ‘Great Acceleration’, while the third Sect. (2.3) offers a conceptual mapping of the Anthropocene and the fourth Sect. (2.4) interprets the Anthropocene as a turning point, context and challenge for science and politics. For the new context of the Anthropocene Sect. 2.5 offers a rethinking of peace and the evolution of peace research since the end of World War I, World War II and the Cold War in selected countries and the development of three international peace research organisations: IPRA, PSS(I) and ISA-PEACE. A reconceptualisation of peace in the Post-Cold War Era (1990–2020) and in the Anthropocene is also taking place. Section 5.6 reviews the evolution and rethinking of several ecology concepts (human, political, social) and (political) geo-ecological approaches during the Anthropocene. Section 2.7 reviews several bridge-building initiatives between peace research and ecology that were previously developed by scholars (e.g. Kenneth and Elise Boulding, Arthur H. Westing et al.) and were suggested during the conceptual debate on environmental and ecological security and in the empirical case studies by Günter Bächler (Switzerland) and Thomas Homer Dixon (Canada) on environmental degradation, scarcity and stress as causes and on conflictive outcomes. Since the end of the Cold War, from a policy perspective, debates have evolved on environmental peacemaking and post-conflict peacebuilding and on climate change, security and conflict linkages. While older bridge-building efforts stemming from peace research have addressed issues related to violence, more recent discourses emerging from environment and sustainability studies have addressed issues of sustainability transition and their impact on sustainable peace (Peck 1998) initiatives in the Anthropocene Sect. 2.7. Section 2.8 focuses on the suggested peace ecology approach and research programme as a holistic, enlightening and critical scientific project for the Anthropocene. For this it is necessary to overcome the fragmentation of scientific and political knowledge to incorporate holistic perspectives and transformative approaches that facilitate the move from knowledge to action. In Sect. 2.9 the author addresses the need to develop an ecological peace policy for the second phase of the Anthropocene (2020–2100) by developing strategies and policies to surmount the challenges in the Anthropocene. In Sect. 2.10 the author concludes by proposing a peace ecology research programme and an ecological peace policy in the Anthropocene (2.10).
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The term écofeminisme is said to have been first coined in 1974 by radical French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne. Identifying the underlying cause for the twin crises of overpopulation and overproduction—somewhat reductively—in the age-old patriarchal domination of women, d’Eaubonne called upon feminists to wed their cause to that of the environment and lead the way into a postpatriarchal, genuinely ‘humanist’, and ecologically sustainable future (d’Eaubonne, Le Féminisme ou la mort, Pierre Horay, 1974: 213–252). Since the publication of Le Feminisme ou Le Mort the connections between the position of women and the fate of the earth have been explored in a number of theoretical directions and arenas of action. As the three books under discussion here amply demonstrate (Merchant, Earthcare: Women and the Environment, Routledge, 1996; Mellor, Feminism and Ecology, Polity Press, 1997; Salleh, Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature, Marx and the Postmodern, Zed Books, 1997), by the mid-1990s, ecofeminism had truly come of age, both as a theoretically sophisticated form of critique and as a global movement of resistance and renovation, linking struggles against environmental degradation with the endeavour to overcome social domination, above all on the basis of sex/gender, but also increasingly in terms of ‘race’ and class.
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