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New Perspectives on Environmental Justice

Gender, Sexuality, and Activism

Edited by Rachel Stein

Publication Year: 2004

Women make up the vast majority of activists and organizers of grassroots movements fighting against environmental ills that threaten poor and people of color communities.  New Perspectives on Environmental Justice is the first collection of essays that pays tribute to the enormous contributions women have made in these endeavors.

The writers offer varied examples of environmental justice issues such as children’s environmental health campaigns, cancer research, AIDS/HIV activism, the Environmental Genome Project, and popular culture, among many others.  Each one focuses on gender and sexuality as crucial factors in women’s or gay men’s activism and applies environmental justice principles to related struggles for sexual justice. The contributors represent a wide variety of activist and scholarly perspectives including law, environmental studies, sociology, political science, history, medical anthropology, American studies, English, African and African American studies, women’s studies, and gay and lesbian studies, offering multiple vantage points on gender, sexuality, and activism.

Feminist/womanist impulses shape and sustain environmental justice movements around the world, making an understanding of gender roles and differences crucial for the success of these efforts.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

First, to all those working in the field—activists, artists, scholars, students- this book is a tribute in your honor, and royalties will be donated to environmental justice groups furthering such efforts...

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Foreword

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pp. xiii-xvi

Our bodies are a mirror of our mother, and of Mother Earth. And so we walk, healthy, beautiful, vibrant, voluptuous through the minefield of industrialism! It is a minefield of toxic chemicals and of toxic sexual images that poison and entrap our bodies. It is a minefield...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-17

While traditional, mainstream environmental organizations have generally defined the environment in terms of uninhabited wilderness areas and plants and animals that need to be conserved and protected from human depredations, the environmental justice movement...

Part I: Gender, Sexuality, and Environmental Justice: Historical and Theoretical Roots

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Chapter 1: Toward a Queer Ecofeminism

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pp. 21-44

Although many ecofeminists acknowledge heterosexism as a problem, a systematic exploration of the potential intersections of ecofeminist and queer theories has yet to be made. By interrogating social constructions of the “natural,” the various uses of Christianity...

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Chapter 2: Women, Sexuality, and Environmental Justice in American History

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pp. 45-60

The modern environmental justice movement emphasizes the right to a safe and healthy ecological, physical, social, political, and economic environment for all people. Issues of race and class are regularly addressed in environmental justice studies as characteristics that increase people’s chances of being subjected to injustice, but these characteristics have also...

Part II: Gender, Sexuality, and Activism

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Chapter 3: Feminist Theory and Environmental Justice

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pp. 63-77

It may be surprising to learn that the environmental movement’s next revolution is now being plotted around kitchen tables. In inner cities, in rural poverty pockets, and on Indian reservations, poor people and people of color are meeting in kitchens and living rooms, organizing coalitions...

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Chapter 4: Witness to Truth: Black Women Heeding the Call for Environmental Justice

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pp. 78-92

Maria W. Stewart (b. 1803–d. 1879), often accounted to be the first African American woman to speak in public about women’s rights (Guy-Sheftall 1995) urged women as the moral center of their families and communities to fight against injustice. In Stewart’s time injustice...

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Chapter 5: The Role of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Class in Activists’ Perceptions of Environmental Justice

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pp. 93-108

The political leadership and activism of Native American and Hispanic women in New Mexico’s environmental justice movement can be differentiated from that of mainstream environmentalists. Unlike mainstream environmentalists, these leaders are mobilized...

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Chapter 6: Sexual Politics and Environmental Justice: Lesbian Separatists in Rural Oregon

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pp. 109-126

In her essay “Ecological Legitimacy and Cultural Essentialism” (1998), Laura Pulido makes an interesting argument about cultural politics and environmental justice. Describing Ganados del Valle, a Hispano community project in northern New Mexico, Pulido argues that the group’s deployment...

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Chapter 7: Toxic Bodies? ACT UP’s Disruption of the Heteronormative Landscape of the Nation

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pp. 127-136

When former President George Bush said that “the American way of life is not negotiable,” he articulated in most blatant terms a particularly hegemonic ideology of the U.S. nation. This construct includes an insatiable level of conspicuous consumption that produces a high degree of waste...

Part III: Gender, Sexuality, and Environmental Health Concerns

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Chapter 8: Producing “Roundup Ready®” Communities? Human Genome Research and Environmental Justice Policy

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pp. 139-160

The recent flurry of research into gene-environment interactions and their role in disease causation, a feature of the genetics “revolution” spawned by the sequencing of the human genome in late 2000, has captured the attention of many environmental justice organizations...

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Chapter 9: Public Eyes: Investigating the Causes of Breast Cancer

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pp. 161-176

Allie Light and Irving Saraf’s documentary Rachel’s Daughters: Searching for the Causes of Breast Cancer (1997) opens with a series of vehicles driving through a central California desert landscape accented with sparse wildflowers set against a vivid blue sky visible beyond the hills...

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Chapter 10: Gender, Asthma Politics, and Urban Environmental Justice Activism

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pp. 177-190

In the 1980s and 1990s, community concern over the problem of childhood asthma in minority communities in New York City reached a crescendo. At protests over controversial polluting facilities—incinerators, diesel bus depots, sewage and sludge treatment plants...

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Chapter 11: No Remedy for the Inuit: Accountability for Environmental Harms under U.S. and International Law

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pp. 191-206

In July 2000, the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation (NACEC)1 published a study finding that Inuit women living near the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Canada, have dioxin concentrations in their breast milk at twice the levels observed...

Part IV: Gender, Sexuality, and Environmental Justice in Literature and Popular Culture

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Chapter 12: Bodily Invasions: Gene Trading and Organ Theft in Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson’s Speculative Fiction

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pp. 209-224

Current environmental justice frameworks have demonstrated that poor and people of color communities often suffer unequal exposure to toxins, radiation, and other environmental risks at home, at work, and in the surrounding locale, endangering the health of their bodies...

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Chapter 13: Home Everywhere and the Injured Body of the World: The Subversive Humor of Blue Vinyl

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pp. 225-239

In “A Fable for Tomorrow,” the first chapter of Silent Spring, a book many consider the harbinger of the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson shows the snake in the Edenic suburban garden, the disrupter of innocence and surface beauty. For Carson, there is an “evil spell...

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Chapter 14: “Lo que quiero es tierra”: Longing and Belonging in Cherríe Moraga’s Ecological Vision

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pp. 240-248

In stark poetry and passionate essays, Cherríe Moraga has forged a brand of environmental justice in which sexuality and gender are as relevant as race and class. Surviving as a Chicana lesbian poet, playwright, and essayist, Moraga’s work often narrates her pain and isolation...

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Chapter 15: Detecting Toxic Environments: Gay Mystery as Environmental Justice

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pp. 249-261

Striking similarities exist between recent developments in multicultural detective fiction and theories of environmental justice. Through a focus on racial, gender, class, ethnic, and sexual bias, multicultural detective fiction and criticism have shifted the idea of who or what is responsible...

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Chapter 16: “The Power is Yours, Planeteers!” Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Children’s Environmentalist Popular Culture

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pp. 262-276

Starting in the late 1990s, environmentalism has become a new moral framework for children’s popular culture. But we should not rush to celebrate this because the messages contained in these environmentalist stories are often counter to what environmental justice activists...

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Notes on Contributors

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pp. 277-280

BETH BERILA is assistant professor of women’s studies at St. Cloud State University, where she teaches classes that analyze intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality in feminist studies, American studies, and twentieth-century U.S. multiethnic literatures...

Index

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pp. 281-287


E-ISBN-13: 9780813542539
E-ISBN-10: 0813542537
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813534268

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 804665137
MUSE Marc Record: Download for New Perspectives on Environmental Justice