John Everett Millais, Ophelia

Ecofeminism and Xenofeminism

Instructor: Alyssa Battistoni
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029

Environmentalists frequently describe the planet as “Mother Earth” and call on humans to “love your mother.” But why is the earth seen as a woman? Should it be? Ecofeminists often connect the domination of nature with the oppression of women. Xenofeminisists, meanwhile, often view technology and the transcendence of “natural” boundaries as central to feminist emancipation. Both eco- and xenofeminists have taken up questions of nature, technology, femininity, dominance, and the human itself in remarkably different, sometimes complementary, ways. How should we understand the nexus between gender, nature, technology, and oppression?

This course examines the relationship between nature and gender through a reading of ecofeminist and xenofeminist thought. Is patriarchy rooted in capitalist property rights in land and women? Is the rationality of Western science and economics, in some malign sense, fundamentally masculine? Is the transcendence of gender itself key to female emancipation? Reading works by eco- and xenofeminists, such as Donna Haraway, Carolyn Merchant, Val Plumwood, Vandana Shiva, Maria Mies, Winona LaDuke, Shulamith Firestone, and the Laboria Cuboniks collective, students will consider the contributions and limits of both ecofeminism and xenofeminism to an understanding of capitalism, modernity, and environmental politics. What is at stake in regarding nature as a moral good? Is the technological control over nature a force for liberation, continued domination, or both? To what extent is the domination of nature linked to the domination of (some) humans? What, if anything, is wrong with treating people as “close to nature”?

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:45-9:45pm
November 15 — December 13, 2018
4 sessions over 5 weeks
Class will not meet on Thursday, November 22nd.


Registration Open

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