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Earth EEs/EHEs; Planetary Consciousness
Record Type: Review   ID: 453

Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism

Diamond, Irene, & Orenstein, Gloria Feman (Eds.)

 The tone for this anthology is set by Grace Paley’s dedication to Rachel Carlson, who "thought that loving the world was what science had to be about ... it is essential to love ... before you can understand." This is a basic aspect of "women’s knowing," so Paley summarizes this book as being about this "other way of understanding ... that we call feminist and ecological, in which we share the world with all living things and know that their stories are our own." The editors, in their Preface, add another aspect of this "other" approach to science, acknowledging "poetic visions as a form of knowledge and as one of the important steps in the process of global transformation." The Introduction sets forth how feminists in the 1970s began to see how "masculine consciousness denigrated and manipulated everything defined as ‘other,’ whether nature, women, or Third World cultures" (pp. ix-x). From within every discipline, academic or applied, they began to "create new cultures that would embrace and honor the values of caretaking and nurturing ... [and that] affirmed and celebrated the embeddedness of all the Earth’s peoples in the multiple webs and cycles of life" (pp. x-xi). They revived the ancient Goddess culture in which Earth was revered as sacred. Ecofeminism is involved in reweaving "new stories that acknowledge and value the biological and cultural diversity that sustains all life ... [and that affirm] women as subjects and makers of history" (p. xi). The editors cite three central tenets of ecofeminism that are illustrated by the pieces that compose this volume; (a) the Earth itself is sacred and land forms and different living creatures have value in themselves, not just for human use. (b) human fate is bound with that of Earth, including our survival and well-being, which depend not on exploiting the Earth and its creatures but that in saving them we save ourselves. (c) Indigenous or First Peoples have much to teach mainstream Western culture as to how to use "the Earth as a natural resource for humans and [also respect] the Earth’s own needs, cycles, energies, and ecosystems" (pp. xi-xii). [These ecofeminist views are not arrived at simply by reason, but are fueled by EHEs—by such emotions as awe, reverence, wonder, and love, and the visions and insights such feelings engender include empathy, creativity, nostalgia, and mystical experience.] Part One, "Histories and Mysteries: In the Beginning," introduces the development of ecofeminism as a philosophy and social movement in seven chapters" Ecofeminism: Our Roots and Flowering, by Charlene Spretnak; How to Heal a Lobotomy, by Brian Swimme; The Gaia Tradition and the Partnership Future: An Ecofeminist Manifesto, by Diane Eisler; The Origins of God in the Blood of the Lamb, by Sally Abbott; The Eleusinian Mysteries: Ancient Nature Religion of Demeter and Persephone, by Mara Lynn Keller; The Woman I Love Is a Planet; The Planet I Love Is a Tree, by Paula Gunn Allen; and Rethinking Theology and Nature, by Carol P. Christ. The second part, "Reweaving the World: Reconnecting Politics and Ethics," contains the following eight chapters: Power, Authority, and Mystery: Ecofeminism and Earth-based Spirituality, by Starhawk; Curves Along the Road, by Susan Griffin; Ecofeminism and Feminist Theory, by Carolyn Merchant; Healing the Wounds: Feminism, Ecology, and the Nature/Culture Dualism, by Ynestra King; Ecofeminism and the Politics of Resistance, by Lee Quinby; Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology: Reflections on Identity and Difference, by Marti Kheel; Deep Ecology and Ecofeminism: The Emerging Dialogue, by Michael E. Zimmerman; and Searching for Common Ground: Ecofeminism and Bioregionalism, by Judith Plant. The last part "analyzes some of the specific problems the current cultural system has created ... [and] points to creative efforts of repair" (p. xiv). It consists of the following 11 chapters: Toward a Womanist Analysis of Birth, by Arisika Razak; The Place of Women in Polluted Places, by Lin Nelson; Development as a New Project of Western Patriarchy, by Vandana Shiva; Babies, Heroic Experts, and a Poisoned Earth, by Irene Diamond; Goddess in the Metropolis: Reflections on the Sacred in an Urban Setting; by Irene Javors; Women, Home, and Community: The Struggle in an Urban Environment, by Cynthia Hamilton; The Evolution of an Ecofeminist, by Julia Scofield Russell; Daughters of Growing Things, by Rachel L. Bagby; Women Against Wasting the World: Notes on Eschatology and Ecology, by Catherine Keller; Perspective or Escape? Ecofeminist Musings on Contemporary Earth Imagery, by Yaakov Jerome Garb; and Artists as Healers: Envisioning Life-giving Culture, by Gloria Feman Orenstein.
Publisher Information:San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1990. 320p. Bibl: 310-316; Chap. notes: 288-309; 1 fig
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