The Ethics and Aesthetics of Eco-Caring: Contemporary Debates on Ecofeminism(s)


Estévez-Saá, Margarita, and María Jesús Lorenzo-Modia. 2018. "The Ethics and Aesthetics of Eco-Caring: Contemporary Debates on Ecofeminism(s)." Women's Studies 47 (2): 123-46. 

Authors: Margarita Estévez-Saá, María Jesús Lorenzo-Modia



"Over the course of those four decades, ecofeminist values, principles, practices, and orientations have been explained, described, reformulated, refined, questioned, and indeed criticized. Nowadays it seems almost naïve to talk of ecofeminism in the singular, since a diverse range of trends and orientations have been identified. Furthermore, in some parts, one can even sense a reluctance to use the term itself, with early proponents having been reproved for maintaining essentialist and discriminatory attitudes and conceptualizations, such as the identification of women with nature, or their initial disregard for the very specific condition of women in certain communities and parts of the world. In-depth studies have shown, for example, how environmental problems such as the effects of overpopulation, water degradation, air pollution, deforestation, the extinction of animal and vegetal species, and militarization all tend to affect women and children earlier and more directly, but also in different ways, according to their particular circumstances and contexts. Hence, alternative names have been proposed, including ecological feminism, feminist environmentalism, critical ecological feminism, critical feminist eco-socialism, gender and the environment, ecowomanism, queer ecologies, and global feminist environmental justice, among others. 

In light of these circumstances, as well as the now long and broad historical development of ecofeminist approaches, the guest editors of the present volume, as well as its contributors, prefer to align themselves with Greta Gaard’s eminently sensible statement that, “If there is to be a future for ‘New Eco-feminism’ it will need to be more cognizant of its rich and prescient history” (44). Gaard’s seminal article “Ecofeminism Revisited: Rejecting Essentialism and Re-Placing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism” (2011) is among the most lucid and comprehensive reviews of the long and prolific history of ecofeminism, as well as of its discontents. In the case of Spain, ecofeminist philosopher Alicia Puleo has also dwelt at length on what she describes as the “lights and shadows” of ecofeminism, elucidating the contributions that various ecofeminist authors have made to the field since its origins in the 1970s  (“Luces y sombras” 36–45). Thus we can perceive today how the most notable and influential ecofeminist theorists are beginning to acknowledge their predecessors’ contributions in a clearer way, one that is unfettered by previous qualms or complexes" (Estévez-Saá and Lorenzo-Modia 2018, 123-124). 

Topics: Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism

Year: 2018

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