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The Good-Natured Feminist

Ecofeminism and the Quest for Democracy

1999
Author:

Catriona Sandilands

The Good-Natured Feminist

A foundational statement of the democratic promise of ecofeminism.

The Good-Natured Feminist inaugurates a sustained conversation between ecofeminism and recent writings in feminist postmodernism and radical democracy. Starting with the assumption that ecofeminism is a body of democratic theory, the book tells how the movement originated in debates about “nature” in North American radical feminisms, how it then became entangled with identity politics, and how it now seeks to include nature in democratic conversation and, especially, to politicize relations between gender and nature in both theoretical and activist milieus.

The Good-Natured Feminist fills two main gaps in contemporary ecofeminist scholarship: questions raised by feminist postmodernists around identity, gender, and subjectivity, and questions about the relevance of ecofeminism to democracy. Sandilands’s contribution is to offer an understanding of ecofeminism which reveals its potential and promise to answer important questions of feminists, postmodernists, and democratic theorists about the place of ‘nature’ in political representation.

Karen J. Warren, author of Ecological Feminist Philosophies

Heroic mothers defending home and hearth against a nature deformed by multinationalist corporate practice: this may be a compelling story, but it is not necessarily the source of valid feminist or ecological critique. What’s missing is the democratic element, an insistence on bringing to public debate all the relations of gender and nature that such a view takes for granted. This book aims to situate a commitment to theory and politics—that is, to democratic practice—at the center of ecofeminism and, thus, to move toward an ecofeminism that is truly both feminist and ecological.

The Good-Natured Feminist inaugurates a sustained conversation between ecofeminism and recent writings in feminist postmodernism and radical democracy. Starting with the assumption that ecofeminism is a body of democratic theory, the book tells how the movement originated in debates about “nature” in North American radical feminisms, how it then became entangled with identity politics, and how it now seeks to include nature in democratic conversation and, especially, to politicize relations between gender and nature in both theoretical and activist milieus.

The Good-Natured Feminist

Catriona Sandilands is assistant professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, Toronto.

The Good-Natured Feminist

The Good-Natured Feminist fills two main gaps in contemporary ecofeminist scholarship: questions raised by feminist postmodernists around identity, gender, and subjectivity, and questions about the relevance of ecofeminism to democracy. Sandilands’s contribution is to offer an understanding of ecofeminism which reveals its potential and promise to answer important questions of feminists, postmodernists, and democratic theorists about the place of ‘nature’ in political representation.

Karen J. Warren, author of Ecological Feminist Philosophies

Democracy has been undertheorized both in feminist theory and ecological theory, and I am excited by Sandilands’s effort to tease out the radical democratic potential of ecofeminism. The Good-Natured Feminist opens up a whole new terrain for discussion within ecofeminism.

Irene Diamond, author of Fertile Ground: Women, Earth, and the Limits of Control

This book is to be welcomed as contributing to the growing scholarship on ecofeminism. It will also be very useful for those interested in postmodern perspectives and the debates around radical democracy.

Canadian Journal of Sociology Online

This book does not suggest a step-by-step route to democracy, it offers some subjects to think about during your quest for democracy. If you are anything like me, you could benefit from challenging some of your own assumptions. By the end I felt like a changed woman.

Sue Stack, Environmental Practice

Highly recommended reading.

Environmental Ethics

The Good-Natured Feminist is an essential text not only for those engaged in ecofeminist projects but, more broadly, for anyone interested in feminism, environmentalism, or social and political theory.

TOPIA: A Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies

The Good-Natured Feminist

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Mothers, Natures, and Ecofeminists

Part I On the Subject of Ecofeminism

1 A Genealogy of Ecofeminism
2 Identity:Another Genealogy
3 From Difference to Differences: A Proliferation of Ecofeminisms
4 From Natural Identity to Radical Democracy

Part II The Quest for a Radical Democratic Politics

5 Cyborgs and Queers: Ecofeminism and the Politics of Coalition
6 Ecofeminism, Universality, and Particularity
7 Ecofeminism, Public and Private Life
8 The Return of the Real: Ecofeminism and the “Wild” Side

Conclusion: The Lack of Conclusiveness
Notes
Index