Mann - Pioneers of US Ecofeminism and Environmental Justice

Mann - Pioneers of US Ecofeminism and Environmental Justice...

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Unformatted text preview: Access Provided by Rutgers University at 08/23/11 2:05AM GMT 2011 Feminist Formations, Vol. 23 No. 2 (Summer) pp. 125 Pioneers of U.S. Ecofeminism and Environmental Justice Susan A. Mann From the late-nineteenth through the early decades of the twentieth century, women in the United States played important roles in the conservation and preservation of wildlife, as well as in environmental activism that fostered clean air, water, and food in our nations urban centers. This article examines the contributions of women of different classes and races to these environmental struggles. It not only synthesizes the findings of previous environmental histories, but also focuses more attention on the ways environmental contamination affected the lives of women of color and their struggles against environmental racism. In this way, an environmental justice lens is used to excavate and reclaim the history of our ecofeminist predecessors to better ensure that the visions and voices of marginalized peoples do not remain hidden from history. Keywords: ecofeminism / environmental history / environmental justice Ecofeminism refers to the diverse range of womens efforts to save the Earth, as well as to the transformations in feminist thought that have resulted in new conceptualizations of the relationship between women and nature (Diamond and Orenstein 1990, ix). Although this concept was not coined until the 1970s, there were a number of discourses on women and nature in earlier eras that both fostered and emerged from womens participation in environmental activism and their appreciation for nature. 1 Focusing on the period from the late-nineteenth through the early decades of the twentieth century, this article examines how women played important roles in the conservation and preservation of wildlife, as well as in activities that fostered clean air, water, and food in our nations urban centers. In particular, it highlights the role played by women who were both womens rights activists and environmental activists as precursors to ecofeminism. 2 Feminist Formations 23.2 While the term feminist was rarely used in the nineteenth century, I will take the liberty of interweaving it with suffragist and womens rights activ- ist throughout (Cott 1987, 1314). It is tempting to use the term first wave as shorthand for describing these nineteenth- and early twentieth-century activists. However, a serious problem with wave approaches is that they too often focus on the achievements of white middle-class women and their hegemonic, liberal feminist organizations. This obscures the diversity of feminists and feminisms within the womens movementparticularly the visions and voices of women with more radical politics, as well as those who are marginalized by race, ethnic- ity, and/or social class (Cott 1987; Giddings 1984; Lerner 1979). In this article, an environmental justice lens is used to provide a more balanced view of the...
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This note was uploaded on 09/25/2011 for the course WOMEN CULT 101 taught by Professor Lee during the Fall '08 term at Rutgers.

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Mann - Pioneers of US Ecofeminism and Environmental Justice...

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