Second nature : on second-class peoples and landscapes.
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This project revises previous scholarship by arguing that the field of ecofeminism does not adequately address the concerns of women of color. Since ecofeminism tends to focus on white women and pristine landscapes, it fails to acknowledge the abuse and mistreatment of marginalized bodies and landscapes. To redress this issue, this project focuses entirely on locations in which race, gender, and environmental abuse are inextricably linked. The four authors examined in this study are Zora Neale Hurston, Maxine Hong Kingston, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Gloria Anzaldúa. Although scholars have examined these authors individually, none, as of yet, have considered them together. One reason may be that it can be difficult to examine multiple cultural groups within a single project without becoming reductive. This project, however, does not posit that all multiethnic groups within the United States are the same, but rather that they all experience ecological injustice due to the racial hierarchies undergirding American life. In particular, this project combines environmental science with literature in order to holistically explore natural and human ecologies at a specific location and moment in time. Environmental sources include data gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Wildlife Federation, the Central Arizona Project, and the Wetlands Project. Their work provides insight into the environmental harm experienced by many American landscapes but also, consciously or otherwise, fails to consider how race is inextricably woven into these acts. To highlight these gaps in environmental data, examines women of color’s experiences within these landscapes. The first chapter explores Zora Neale Hurston’s depiction of the wetlands as harmful to black migrant workers. The second chapter examines Maxine Hong Kingston’s critique of war and imperialism through descriptions of natural disasters. The third chapter, concentrating on the works of Leslie Marmon Silko, comments upon capitalism by noting the ways in which government and big business fail to address issues of water scarcity in the American Southwest. The last chapter uses posthumanist theory to show the connection between animal and human oppression. Taken together, these texts reveal that environmental oppression is inextricably tied to race and gender.