Women's Labor and Nature: The 21st Century World-system from a Radical Ecofeminist Perspective

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Wesport, CT: Praeger Publishers, Greenwood Publishing Group

The paper starts by identifying the four cultural pillars that legitimize exportation of capitalism; universalism, developmentalism, racism, and sexism. The universal model of scientific thinking (rejecting other ways of knowing) and the myth of developmentalism (with its promise of progress, democracy and better standards of living) have only favored the accumulation of capital in the core at the expense of the periphery. The capitalist hierarchization of work-force, with wage-income used as the norm, has devalued women and women's work. Women's work has been downgraded to non-productive work. Capitalism also relies on the "imperialistic relation of people to their ecosystems" where production becomes the opposite of adapting to nature. The author presents a list of shared theoretical ideas between world-systems analysis and radical ecofeminism. Common terms are; incorporation, commodity chain, unequal exchange, and the semiproletarianized household. Incorporation involves the transformation of indigenous economies, political reorientation, maximization of human laborers exploitation, and the spread of capitalistic ideologies. Commodity chains favor the exploitation of workers or devalued classification of non-productive work, and the destruction of natural resources for the accumulation of capital for a few. The core controls the resources and externalizes the ecological costs to the household. Often the household members have to subsidize the low and unstable wages turning to non-wage income such as market sales and rent. For these reasons radical ecofeminists sees capitalism as a modern form of a patriarchal force defining women and nature as subordinate. Ecologically we need to rethink our concept of household to include the interhousehold and intercommunity relationships. The paper also highlights that ecofeminism fails to integrate the woven concept of women, labor, and nature, which considering that capitalism depends on labor, women, and nature, is an important factor. For this reason the paper ends highlighting the need to ask important questions.

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Women, Gender, Ecofeminism, World-systems analysis, Capitalism, Sexism