2012 Course Description & Readings

Biology, Bodies, and Binaries

Ecofeminism analyzes how the same paradigms and historical inequalities devalue and oppress both ‘women’ and ‘nature,’ leading to the oppression and denigration of both. This course is meant to open theoretical, historical, and scientific avenues into your ability to understand the ways that, in Western society, women are treated as inferior to men, ‘nature’ is treated as inferior to ‘culture’, and humans/men are understood as being separate from, and often superior to, the natural environment/women. Through a lens which acknowledges the connections between sexism, racism, class exploitation, and environmental destruction, the class will explore and undermine many of the common conceptions which balance technology, culture, progress, innovation, and might, against the traditionally feminine circularity, connectivity, tradition, sustainability, and community innovation. As we learn to understand the misguided, anthropocentric, and engendered frameworks which have led to both personal injustice and global disasters from dangerous climate change to dangerous eye makeup, we can begin to see how solutions to environmental problems require a feminist perspective, and feminist theory and practice require an environmental perspective – in other words, how we can be warriors for the many environment(s) such as forests, waterways, communities, and our own bodies, that we care for, and do so in radically more ecological way than patriarchal norms ever have documented or allowed.

 

 

Course Objectives

1. Understand and apply ecofeminism as a framework, practice, and philosophy.

2. Embrace systems thinking, non-binary thinking, and critical thinking skills.

3. Identify and demonstrate competency in how language encodes cultural relationships and moral codes which shape our understanding and behaviors.

4. Demonstrate competence in understanding local and global women’s issues and bioregions and relate land use practices, current natural resource utilization patterns and environmental health concerns to contemporary cultural and political systems.

5. Unravel and critically examine deep-seated binaries & bodily prejudices regarding the validity of observation and intuition, biological and scientific theories, historical and contemporary injustices, and Earth systems.

 

In Other Words…

1.  Be able to sum up ecofeminism in 30 seconds or less when your friend/mother/brother/supervisor asks, “What is ecofeminism, anyway?”

2. Love your body, protect your body, but not be defined by it.

3. Read and interpret the world in a new empowering light.

4.If your father/sister/uncle/high school boyfriend gives you 30 more seconds, be able to name 3 relevant contemporary issues that demonstrate what you just said.

5. Radically challenge everything.

 COURSE TEXTS

Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream

Wangari Maathai, The Green Belt Movement   

Vandana Shiva, Soil Not Oil  

Greta Gaard, ed., Ecofeminism:  Women, Animals, Nature

Karen J. Warren, ed., Ecofeminism:  Women, Culture, Nature

Readings on Moodle

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