Ecofeminism

Was Rachel Carson an ecofeminist? Technically, no—the term “ecofeminist” did not appear until a decade after her death—yet Carson’s work exemplifies ecofeminist praxis (the inseparability of theory and practice). Observing an unusual and alarming phenomenon of environmental health (massive bird deaths), Carson used scientific methods to trace the various avenues for sustenance in the songbirds’ lives—air, water, food, habitat—and discovered that overexposure to pesticides was the lethal agent. Making interspecies connections among the environmental health of avians, humans, and ecosystem flows (air, water, food), Carson (1962) argued for an end to pesticides, publishing her findings in a voice both literary and scientific. In the final months of her life, Carson faced down strong corporate assaults on her work while battling breast cancer, an illness later found to have significant links to the synthetic chemicals she studied.

Carson’s intersectional approach, linking environmental issues with social concerns, anticipates ecofeminist perspectives. As an …

This essay may be found on page 68 of the printed volume.

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