Article index
Issue #026 articles
Issue #026 Published: 12-09-2019 // Written by: Jasmine Nihmey Vasdi
Ecofeminism in the Face of Climate Disaster
Ecofeminism (as defined by Ynestra King in Ecology)1 1. “[E]cofeminists take on the life-struggles of all of nature as our own” 2. “Life on earth is an interconnected web, not a hierarchy” 3. “A healthy, balanced ecosystem, including human and nonhuman inhabitants, must maintain diversity” 4. “The survival of the species necessitates (...) a challenging of the nature-culture dualism and a corresponding radical restructuring of human society according to feminist and ecological principles” As the world continues to experience the negative effects of climate change, hot topics such as veganism, sustainability, and plastic-free products continue to bleed into mainstream media. Researchers from many branches of academia have already begun to analyse the looming spectre of human extinction. There is one burgeoning theory that could be considered an ambitious, and yet, still realistic plan for humans to easily adapt before our possible demise: Ecofeminism. Originally created and defined in the 1970’s by French Feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne, Ecofeminism is a branch of Feminism that links Woman and the Earth as inherently divine beings. Certain branches of Ecofeminism include elements of Spirituality and Paganism – although this is not the belief of every Ecofeminist. Through d’Eaubonne, Ecofeminism grew as an understanding that women and nature were inherently connected. As other Ecofeminists, such as King, began to develop their own ideas, the theory retained a belief in an equality and respect between all living beings, and empathy from humans towards the Earth and everything in it. A key aspect to Ecofeminism is the recognition of the detrimental effects that patriarchal domination and capitalism has had on nature. It is understandable that in order to work against climate disaster, and to heal the Earth, the capitalist and patriarchal environment in which much of humanity functions must be abandoned and replaced by a radical liberalist society: where a mutual respect between humans, nature, and all living beings exists. Some Ecofeminist Researchers have already tapped into the idea that climate change is best described, as Greta Gaard does, as “white industrial – capitalist heteromale supremacy on steroids, boosted by widespread injustices of gender and race, sexuality and species”.2 For researchers like Gaard, a complete restructuring of society is necessary in order to save the planet. However, as we witness numerous world leaders make social and environmentally regressive policy decisions, such a restructuring does not seem immediately feasible. Similar beliefs of an obligatory societal amendment have also birthed a related term, ‘Eco-socialism’, which can be summarised as an eradication of capitalism and a liberalist shift towards a society that aligns with environmentalist values. This can occur across a multitude of channels: veganism, self-sustainable farming, mandatory environmental education in the public education sector, retreat from urban life in favour of an agricultural lifestyle; or even simple tasks such as composting, thrifting, gardening, protesting/creating awareness. The only way such a dramatic altering of society could occur is if Ecofeminist beliefs become more mainstream. Ecofeminists, such as myself, believe that by taking individual actions to promote awareness, Ecofeminist behaviours can gain popularity. We have seen this occur with the nearly-mainstream vegan movement, and the proliferation of the terms ‘sustainable’ and ‘green energy’. Even though our movement will undoubtedly be exploited by capitalist ventures, a trend we have seen with Feminism, at least acknowledging and embracing an intersectional point of view could help us move beyond the individualistic realm relying on environmentalists and scientists, and towards collective understanding and action. Are healing our individual relationships with nature enough to create a movement that can help us through climate disaster? Or is it just wishful thinking, another hopeful movement? Regardless of the answer, our current situation demands that we at least try.   1) King, Ynestra. “The Ecology of Feminism and the Feminism of Ecology.” Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism. Ed. Judith Plant. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1989. 18-28. 2) Gaard, Greta. “Ecofeminism and Climate Change.” Women’s Studies International Forum. Vol. 49. Pergamon, 2015. Illustration: Dünya atay
Issue #026 Published: 10-09-2019 // Written by: Aja Waalwijk, P. van Ginkel
8th Futurologic Symposium On Free Cultural Spaces: Reframing Environmentalism
Op 13-14-15 september vindt het 8ste Futurologisch Symposium Vrije Culturele Ruimtes plaats in respectievelijk Nieuw en Meer, Ruigoord en Vrij Paleis te Amsterdam. Onder de titel Reframing Environmentalism sluit het symposium aan op zowel het 7de symposium FCS op de ADM in 2017 (Degentrificatie) als de manifestatie van de Culturele Stelling van Amsterdam (CSA) in Pakhuis de Zwijger (Onbetaalbaar Kapitaal) in juni dit jaar. Doel is te komen tot een aantal alternatieve omgevings- of milieuvisies. Reframing Environmentalism kan worden vertaald als herdefiniëring, herwaardering of het opnieuw transformeren van kaders voor het produceren van ruimtes c.q. omgevingen. Onder het begrip omgeving vallen woningen, straten, buurten, fabrieksterreinen en natuurgebieden. Dit keer geen debatten, maar speeches waarin omgevingsvisies centraal staan. Van zowel representanten vanuit de Culturele Stelling van Amsterdam, als vertegenwoordigers van vrijplaatsen uit het buitenland. Er zijn drie subthema’s: 1. Hybride ruimtes (Nieuw en Meer) vrijdag 13 september. Met voorbeelden van en visies over synergetische concepten/projecten aangaande cultuur- en natuurgebieden zoals ‘Het Antropocene Bos’ (Nieuw en Meer), De Eco-polder (Lutkemeer) en andere grensverleggende uitbreidingen van bestaande vrijplaatsen (Ruigoord buiten de Perken). 2. Ruimte en Tijd (Ruigoord) zaterdag 14 september. Duurzaamheid en organische groei zijn aspecten van toekomstgerichte ruimtelijke ordening. Tijdens deze dag wordt o.a. aandacht geschonken aan internationale ontwikkelingen op dit gebied. Er zijn politieke, sociale, fysieke, mentale en economische ruimtelijke benaderingen, gedacht in termen van korte of lange termijnen. Het door de overheid geïntroduceerde begrip ‘permanente tijdelijkheid’ in relatie tot het ontwikkelen van nieuwe vrijplaatsen, ofwel het belang van witte vlekken op de kaart, plekken waar niets gepland is. Deze plekken vallen niet onder de natuur- of cultuurgebieden, maar kunnen een derde categorie vormen, die van ‘Witte Vlek’ of ‘Niemands Iedersland’. 3. Recentralisatie van de stedelijke ruimte. (Vrij Paleis) zondag 15 september. Bij de indeling van de stadsdelen is tot op heden geen of nauwelijks aandacht geschonken aan al bestaande centra buiten de historische stadskern. Gedacht vanuit de Trans-Industriële landschapsopvattingen is er niet één centrum, maar liggen alle centra in elkaars periferie. Het symposium sluit op zondag af met een Luidruchtige Omgang vanuit Vrij Paleis via Kalverstraat naar Spui, alwaar we een appelboom naast het Lieverdje plaatsen/planten. De appelboom is een hommage aan het appeltje (Gnot) dat Magisch Centrum Amsterdam symboliseert en aan de vijftig jaar geleden opgerichte Kabouterbeweging. De kabouters wilden een autovrije groene stad. Ze trokken tegels uit de stoep en plantten boompjes. Ze leerde ons op een andere manier met de stedelijke ruimte om te gaan. Hun doel was een leefstijl die overeen kwam met die van kabouters: in harmonie met de natuur. We komen in actie om het Onvoltooid Verleden van De Kabouterbeweging tot de Tegenwoordige Toekomende Tijd te brengen; om een te worden met onze omgeving.
Issue #026 Published: 05-09-2019 // Written by: Rosie Fawbert Mills
Time to protest
Throughout history people have had to take a stand (but I’m not about to list them all here). Within these, I think there might be one overlooked but important protest story. Thankfully it is now having it’s struggle acknowledged in a new documentary by Director and Writer Jon Seal. Set in Norway in 1942, during World War Two, it tells the remarkable story of a set of teachers who outright refused to teach the Nazi curriculum and were punished for it. The themes of the film are astonishingly current, exploring the power of passive resistance to bring about change. On Friday September 27th there will be the first in a series of screenings and post-screening discussions of ideas, themes and topics. ‘The Teachers’ Protest’ is taking place at Filmhuis Cavia, Van Hallstraat. Since the dark ages, public protest has shaped the lives of individuals and influenced the development of society. It is a form of resistance but also a form of attack and can be a movement for good. It can give voice and momentum to groups of people who refuse to be oppressed or denied a place in society. But what prompts people to protest? We are surrounded by false advertising.  The future is not orange - the future is grey, or is it green? Blue, red... What colour would you say the future is? Is it an Orwellian black pit of a despairing proletariat, or the acid yellow of an Atwoodian twist on the logic of life. Perhaps it will be a silver Matrix - style, virtual reality mystery? If you were offered the red pill or the blue pill, which would you take? Will the future be the same for everyone? In Twenty One Lessons for The Twenty First Century, Yuval Noah Harari warns of technological advancements creating greater and deeper divisions in society, such as a class divide more profound than ever experienced before! It seems the time is right to stop and think about this. Perhaps now is a time to protest. But why and when do people feel the need to protest? For some young people, even some of those currently going through the higher education system, don’t see a bright future. One British student, Michael, gave an inspiring speech at a National Education Union (NEU) rally in the UK on November 20th 2018. He had joined thousands of teachers, parents and MPs to march in protest to the UK’s Department of Education’s funding cuts to special needs, post-16 and early years education facilities. Michael spoke about being abandoned by his school, as they were unable to provide for his autism needs. His closing remark was hard to be unsympathetic with: “we are the ones who will be looking after you when you’re old, so look after us now.” Equally, here in the Netherlands, teachers are taking a stand against pay and conditions. In March there was a nationwide strike and teachers of all levels participated in a week of campaigning. “The need is high everywhere”, Dorien Konig, director of general education union AOb said to the NL Times.  There is a teacher retention problem - much like that in the UK and other Europeans countries.  They felt a collective need to protest. Another focus for recent protests: climate change. Global Norwegian heroine, Greta Thunberg, made a name for herself in August 2018 because she skipped school to protest outside the Swedish parliament. She describes herself as a “climate radical”. Recently she has been making headlines for joining forces with the UN (and holding hands with celebs) to raise awareness and influence change. Another example: abortion rights in countries as diverse as Ireland and China; since the Stonewall riots in 1969, LGBT protests continue all over the world - alongside widespread heavy criticism of governments not “doing enough” to make changes. From Hong Kong we have seen footage of anti-extradition bill protests and the government’s extreme and forceful reaction. There is continued resistance in the West Bank and Palestine. Since January, there have been regular protests designed to to remove Nicolás Maduro from the presidency; in Venezuela. You might not know Jon Seal yet, much like the Norwegian student before she took a stand.  Having been a holistic, dynamic and passionate teacher for several years, he is also a musician, a boat builder, an avid cyclist and a mentor to many.  He is a bit of a nomad: he often travels and is always drawn back to Norway (having found a kinship with the country after a naive cycle trip there as an 18 year old).  So if anyone was going to tell this story with a sense of discovery, respect and genuine admiration, it was going to be him. Whatever color the future is, I am grateful there are still people of all ages inspiring me and us all: to take a stand, to protest for what is good and right, and maybe skip work or school to sit in front of the Parliament office to take a stand about something that matters. Illustration: Dünya Atay // Photo: Luke Dray
Issue #026 Published: 04-09-2019 // Written by: Patricia Reed
AA Talk #7 Co-existence at Planetary Dimensions With Patricia Reed
It is a truism to say that human societies have become exponentially interconnected, complex and interdependent. However, it is much less obvious to cope with the problem of how to access such an interconnected, complex and interdependent dimension of reality. We need to be able to do so in order to imagine how human societies could be transformed otherwise. As post-nuclear creatures faced with climate catastrophe, as the polymath Sylvia Wynter wrote, humans are now confronted with the historical task of co-existence within a common environment – despite the acutely uneven qualities of existence within this common condition. This is not only a political or social problem, but a conceptual problem as well. We need new perspectives and frames of reference to learn to ‘see’ this common condition. It seems critical in my view, to construct possibilities in the name this common environment, precisely against an increasingly powerful far-right which, through ethno-nationalist isolationism, stands only for a narrow world picture of isolationism:  a barricaded world exclusively for those of familiar, self-similar resemblance. As someone working in the field of theory, I approach this demand from a conceptual angle. In my AA talk, I won’t provide determinate answers to this problem but move through a series of questions in an effort to grasp the scope of the demand, and how such questions may help ground transformative thought for politics and activism. How can co-existence at planetary dimensions be thought in a way that is not simply globalization 2.0? What new frames of reference does this dimension of being open up, including how we understand what being human may mean, and where the human stands within this planetary picture? How can we begin to navigate at these dimensions without subordinating differences to reductive forces of homogenization? How does this scale of co-existence transform our understanding of what the local even is? What can feminist legacies concerning care and maintenance labour teach us in learning to co-exist within the planetary dimensionality of life today – a scale that calls upon an expanded picture of care beyond the sphere of the personal, or the intimate? It is the hope with such questions that we may start sketching out an image of solidarity without sameness for this newly common space of domesticity constituted by a planetary condition. These are some of the questions I would like to address and discuss with you during the AA talk. Biography Patricia Reed Patricia Reed is an artist, writer and designer based in Berlin. Through various mediums, her work concerns the movement from what is in the world, towards what could or ought to be. As a broad interest, the entanglement between concepts and materials is a particular point of focus. More concretely, how ideas of the world, including ideas of what it is to be human, manifest as structures of cohabitation. The premise being, that since concepts and assumptions are baked into social organizational forms (our technologies, modes of valuation/distribution, inter-human relations, human and earth-system relations), it is necessary to interrogate what those grounding concepts are, in order to imagine transformative possibility otherwise. What other forms of material co-existence could be enabled when departing from different conceptual grounds, and how does the dimension of the planetary provide a framework for denaturalizing long-standing assumptions of how we think the world and our place in it? Reed is part of the Laboria Cuboniks (techno-material feminist) working group whose Xenofeminist Manifesto (2015) was republished by Verso Books in 2018. Her writings have been published in countless books and journals around the world. Recent publications include e-flux Journal, Making & Breaking, Angelaki, the Glass Bead Journal, Xeno-Architecture (Sternberg Press), and Cold War Cold World (Urbanomic). Friday 20 September Doors open 19:30 hrs Start: 20:00 hrs Entrance: free (donations welcome) OT301, Overtoom 301 Facebook event