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The Ecological Other

Environmental Exclusion in American Culture

Sarah Jaquette Ray

Publication Year: 2013

With roots in eugenics and other social-control programs, modern American environmentalism is not always as progressive as we would like to think. In The Ecological Other, Sarah Jaquette Ray examines the ways in which environmentalism can create social injustice through discourses of the body.
Ray investigates three categories of ecological otherness: people with disabilities, immigrants, and Native Americans. Extending recent work in environmental justice ecocriticism, Ray argues that the expression of environmental disgust toward certain kinds of bodies draws problematic lines between ecological “subjects”—those who are good for and belong in nature—and ecological “others”—those who are threats to or out of place in nature. Ultimately, The Ecological Other urges us to be more critical of how we use nature as a tool of social control and to be careful about the ways in which we construct our arguments to ensure its protection. 
The book challenges long-standing assumptions in environmentalism and will be of interest to those in environmental literature and history, American studies, disability studies, and Native American studies, as well as anyone concerned with issues of environmental justice.

With roots in eugenics and other social-control programs, modern American environmentalism is not always as progressive as we would like to think. In The Ecological Other, Sarah Jaquette Ray examines the ways in which environmentalism can create social injustice through discourses of the body.
Ray investigates three categories of ecological otherness: people with disabilities, immigrants, and Native Americans. Extending recent work in environmental justice ecocriticism, Ray argues that the expression of environmental disgust toward certain kinds of bodies draws problematic lines between ecological “subjects”—those who are good for and belong in nature—and ecological “others”—those who are threats to or out of place in nature. Ultimately, The Ecological Other urges us to be more critical of how we use nature as a tool of social control and to be careful about the ways in which we construct our arguments to ensure its protection. 
The book challenges long-standing assumptions in environmentalism and will be of interest to those in environmental literature and history, American studies, disability studies, and Native American studies, as well as anyone concerned with issues of environmental justice.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Contents

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pp. 6-7

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 8-13

I often hear the criticism that humanistic scholars are so solitary in their work. We don’t socialize in the lab or work in teams to col-lect data. We don’t often publish multi-author work, and we spend a lot of time alone in the virtual stacks of research databases, reading and thinking. But as I sit to write this acknowledgment and imagine ...

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Introduction: The Ecological Other

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pp. 14-47

If nature is to matter, we need more potent, more complex under-in fortifying whiteness, and feminists are attentive to the ways that disgust materializes and thereby diminishes femininity. Yet, despite the environmental movement’s focus on waste, trash, recycling, pol-lution, and toxicity, few have considered the role of disgust as an ...

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1. “Maimed Away from Mother Earth”: The Disabled Body in Environmental Thought and Literature

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pp. 48-95

...that cast in stark relief the links between colonialism, wilderness, and the fit body about which this book is concerned. She writes about the challenges of being “waist-high” in the West, where values of wide-open spaces, mobility, rugged individualism, and independence reign. Her own life in a wheelchair gives her a critical perspective ...

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2. Ecological Indian or Ecological Other? Environmentalism and the Indigenous Body in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead

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pp. 96-151

American body symbolizes and literally embodies colonial-capitalism’s impact on Native Americans. The corporeal costs of colonial-capital-fallout, diabetes, alcoholism, and cancer appear with greater fre-quency in Native American communities than in the rest of the US population. Colonial-capitalism disables the Native American body. ...

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3. The Poetics of Trash: Immigrant Bodies in the Borderland Wilderness

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pp. 152-191

...well as between access and exclusion, that I describe in the previous two chapters is perhaps most clearly at stake in a contemporary case study of the US–Mexico border. Discourses of national purity and pollution infuse debates about national security and dictate how to manage the border, as popular media treat the border as hermeti-...

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Conclusion: Toward an Inclusive Environmentalism

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pp. 192-197

I have argued in this book that the examples of the invalid, the Indian, and the immigrant are three examples of the ways in which environmentalism is complicit in maintaining social hierarchies. I have outlined some of the ways in which environmentalist discourse legitimizes and perpetuates these relations. I showed how discourses ...

Notes

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pp. 198-205

Bibliography

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pp. 206-217

Index

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pp. 218-5

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Illustration

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pp. 6-54

I often hear the criticism that humanistic scholars are so solitary in their work. We don’t socialize in the lab or work in teams to col-lect data. We don’t often publish multi-author work, and we spend a lot of time alone in the virtual stacks of research databases, reading and thinking. But as I sit to write this acknowledgment and imagine ...

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1. “Witness the Fitness”

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pp. 55-224

Figure 1. “Witness the Fitness.” Rock and Ice magazine cover, July 2005. which embodies virtue, select status, and, importantly, genetic supe-riority. The centrality of the body to the wilderness ideal invokes the historical relationship between social Darwinism and environmen-talism on which my argument builds. Braun hints at these connec-...


E-ISBN-13: 9780816599813
E-ISBN-10: 0816599815
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816511884
Print-ISBN-10: 0816511888

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 1 photo
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Ecocriticism.
  • Ecology in literature.
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