Feminist and anti-colonial “supplements” to science for environmental justice

Authors: Kiran Asher*, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: environmental justice, feminist science studies, anti-coloniality
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Rampart, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Feminists and feminist theories are making key contributions to imagine new nature-cultural worlds as part of the interlinked struggles for social and environmental justice (http://catalystjournal.org/ojs/index.php/catalyst/index). In my contribution to the Catalyst special issue I trace how gender, political economy, and race were and remain fundamental in producing the subjects and objects of my environmental justice research, i.e. of my feminist scientific practice in Asia and Latin America. In the paper for this panel, I aim to build on my argument and turn specifically to Gayatri Spivak’s ideas of planetary and cosmopolitanism, help us reimagine nature-culture worlds ethically but unromantically. Spivak’s “postcolonialism” is often dismissed as mere critique without a roadmap for a different future. But in her call “to learn from below,” I read an invitation to engage in the slow, unguaranteed labor of careful critique and patient undoing of the problematic of “development” or science. Paraphrasing and summarizing her complex formulations, I suggest that her methodology entails mobilizing a historico-political perspective to “supplement” science in service of social and environmental justice efforts. This “supplementing” involves tracing how rural communities, third world women, and nature are inserted into the circuits of global capitalism: in other words, their complex and contradictory relations with the state, nationalism, development, and environmental politics. Such tracings reveal the gaps and fissures of dominant logic and the traces of other logics that are always already there. These are radical tasks, as they require us to productively inhabit the ambiguities and contradictions of natural-cultural life and worlds.

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