Ecofeminism as Politics (London: Zed Books/New York: Palgrave, 1997) travels laterally through topics such as globalisation and Green ideologies, gendered science and gene tech, Aboriginal land rights, the population debate, critical reflections on neo-liberalism and on Marx’s theory of value. Not surprisingly, it finds a home in environmental studies, history and philosophy of science, ethics, politics, sociology, cultural and women’s studies. Social movement researchers have here a history of ecofeminism as grassroots resurgence and literature.

The book sets out to destabilise the Western construct of humanity and nature as separate spheres. As ecofeminists see it, this eurocentric discourse reflects a gendered form of denial, whereby men are recognised as cultural and political subjects, but women are treated as closer to nature. Thus, in the search for sustainable futures, even critical traditions like Marx’s class analysis beg interrogation.

Ariel Salleh’s focus is a grouping that she names ‘meta-industrial workers’. These are housewives, peasants, indigenous peoples’ whose reproductive labours minimise risk and hold complex living systems together. Her ecofeminism is a politics embedded in specific skills and values an ‘embodied materialism’. At the psychological level, it is a political agency energised by the painful contradictory identity of being human and yet also a ‘natural resource’. This dialectical epistemology silences old criticisms of ecofeminism as essentialist.

The cover of this book features ‘Maralinga’ (1990), a fibreglass sculpture by the late Aboriginal artist Lin Onus. A mother and her child, fragile as cinders, face the blast of an atomic bomb at Maralinga in the South Australian desert. British experiments in the 1950s, maimed and displaced the Tjarutja people and decimated their sacred country. The original of this life size fibreglass work is housed in the Art Gallery of Western Australia, whose curator and the Onus family, granted permission for reproduction of the image on the cover of this book.


Chapter 1 Ecology Re-Frames History

Louise Edwards (2000) Review: 'The Emergence of Ecofeminist Political Economy', The Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol. 46, No. 2, 305-306.

John Barry (1998) Review: 'The Emergence of Ecofeminist Political Economy', Environmental Politics, No. 7, 150-155.