This workshop is rooted in the awareness of historical misogynistic injustices concerning voices of women in public discourses and reaches beyond women towards intersectional dialogues among feminist voices that prioritize the well-being of people with historically disenfranchised and socio-politically marginalized (HDSM) identities with respect to ecological issues.

Classicist and feminist Mary Beard critically examines Western cultural assumptions about voices of women in public discourses and their historical relationship with power. Beard's incisive critique about misogyny in Western history points out two discursive instances where women's voices are publicly admissible and recognized: first, “women are allowed to speak out as victims and as martyrs, usually to preface their own death”, and second, “women may in extreme circumstances publicly defend their own sectional interests, but not speak for men or the community as a whole” [2]. Beard argues that the long history of misogyny embedded in Western civilization continues to bear consequences for contemporary public discourses where we “find the same areas of licence for women to talk publicly, whether in support of their own sectional interests, or to parade their victimhood” [2]. To address such historical misogynistic injustices, there is a necessity for recognizing and amplifying women's voices on communal concerns and ecological issues through contemporary public discursive practices such as policy making, theory building, research knowledge production, philosophy, civic participation, social justice activism, design innovation, and art.

Mary Beard

Lourdes Arizpe

In the preface to a collected volume of feminist responses to environmental sustainability issues, anthropologist Lourdes Arizpe underscores that “a feminist perspective that looks at women not as victims but as agents of change has strong commonalities with other movements seeking a more sustainable future for humanity” [1]. A historical awareness of misogyny then serves as a necessary preface, useful critical lens, and background motivation for contemporary feminist dialogues that aim to foreground people with HDSM identities' voices on communal concerns and situate them as agents of change with respect to ecological issues in public discourses. 

We readily acknowledge that contemporary feminist concerns are diverse, at times even conflicting, and must expand beyond sexism and gender inequities to include other forms of intersectional injustices such as racism, religious intolerance, casteism, homophobia, transphobia, classicism, colonialism, ethnocentrism, ageism, ableism, and speciesism, to name a few. Ecological feminist Karen J. Warren argues for beginning with gender as a category of analysis “not because gender oppression is more important than other forms of oppression (but) because a focus on "women" reveals important features of interconnected systems of human domination” [5].

Karen J. Warren

Vandana Shiva

Environmental activist and ecological feminist Vandana Shiva draws commonality between gendered oppression in patriarchal societies and environmental oppression manifested as capitalistic monocultures that result in decline of biodiversity [4]. Shiva clarifies the position of women in capitalistic monocultures as being vulnerable to exploitation but also particularly placed to conserve biodiversity as agents of change [4].

Critical engagement with intersecting axes of injustices without reducing and freezing people as victims is a complex challenge that warrants thoughtful and creative responses. We build upon bell hooks' notion of marginality as “much more than a site of deprivation [that] is also the site of radical possibility, a space of resistance, a central location for the production of a counter hegemonic discourse that is not just found in words but in habits of being and the way one lives [that] offers the possibility of radical perspectives from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds” [3].

bell hooks

References: [1] Lourdes Arizpe. 1994. Preface. In Feminist Perspectives on Sustainable Development, Wendy Harcourt (Ed.). Zed Books
[2] Mary Beard. 2018. Women & Power: A Manifesto. Profile Books
[3] bell hooks. 1990. Marginality as a site of resistance. In Out there: marginalization and contemporary cultures, Trinh T. Minh-ha Russell Ferguson, Martha GHever and Cornel West (Eds.). MIT Press, 341–343
[4] Vandana Shiva. 1992. Women's Indigenous Knowledge and Biodiversity Conservation. In India International Centre Quarterly 19, 1/2 (1992), 205–214
[5] Karen J Warren. 2000. Ecofeminist Philosophy: A western perspective on what it is and why it matters. Rowman & Littlefield