Intersectional feminism for the environmental studies and sciences: looking inward and outward

Article

Abstract

Although hardly new, our current political climate has brought the specter of American injustice more explicitly into the public eye. The Black Lives Matter Movement, the Flint water crisis, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the various marches on Washington, among others, demonstrate the clear links between humans, nonhuman nature, and justice/equality. Now, then, is a critical moment for the field of environmental studies and sciences to evaluate how we “look outward” at the topics we study and “look inward” at how we conduct our ourselves and our work. Environmental studies and sciences (ESS) purportedly brings a transdisciplinary/multidisciplinary approach to research by linking the arts, humanities, social, and physical sciences in pursuit of more just socioecological outcomes. However, a cursory reflection on the field suggests continued disciplinary divisions that sort the nonhuman and human world into more-or-less distinct and sometimes problematically immutable categories. Further, manuscript discussion sections typically mix in issues of justice and equality ad hoc, rather than explicitly building them into research design and practice. In this article, we argue that feminist theory, and in particular theories of intersectionality, can critique and strengthen the ESS agenda by reforming current practice. Specifically, we draw on intersectionality to reframe how we organize the work we do (looking inward) and how we ask research questions (looking outward). We then use this theoretical framework to suggest how intersectional diversity can inform our future research programs, making the field more poised to meet the complex challenges of global environmental change.

Keywords

Feminist theory Intersectionality Diversity Politics of knowledge Positionality 

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Copyright information

© AESS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California State Polytechnic UniversityPomonaUSA
  2. 2.Pace UniversityNew YorkUSA

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