Ecofeminism Revisited: Rejecting Essentialism and Re-Placing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism

Citation:

Gaard, Greta. 2011. “Ecofeminism Revisited: Rejecting Essentialism and Re-Placing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism.” Feminist Formations 23 (2): 26–53. 

Author: Greta Gaard

Abstract:

Formulated in the 1980s and gaining prominence in the early 1990s, by the end of that decade ecofeminism was critiqued as essentialist and effectively discarded. Fearing their scholarship would be contaminated by association with the term “eco-feminism,” feminists working on the intersections of feminism and environmentalism thought it better to rename their approach. Thirty years later, current developments in allegedly new fields such as animal studies and naturalized epistemology are “discovering” theoretical perspectives on interspecies relations and standpoint theory that were developed by feminists and ecofeminists decades ago. What have we lost by jettisoning these earlier feminist and ecofeminist bodies of knowledge? Are there features of ecofeminism that can helpfully be retrieved, restoring an intellectual and activist history, and enriching current theorizing and activisms? By examining the historical foundations of ecofeminism from the 1980s onward, this article uncovers the roots of the antifeminist backlash against ecofeminism in the 1990s, peeling back the layers of feminist and environmentalist resistance to ecofeminism’s analyses of the connections among racism, sexism, classism, colonialism, speciesism, and the environment. Recuperating ecofeminist insights of the past thirty years provides feminist foundations for current liberatory theories and activisms. 

Keywords: animal studies, antifeminism, ecofeminism, essentialism, material feminism

Topics: Class, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Race

Year: 2011

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