Beyond Mothering Earth: Ecological Citizenship and the Politics of Care

Sherilyn MacGregor
Women’s environmental activism is often described in maternalist terms – as if motherhood and caring for the environment go hand in hand. While feminists celebrate this connection, women and all those who care for people and environments are facing increasing burdens and decreasing time for civic engagement as neoliberal governments download life-sustaining work to the voluntary sector.In Beyond Mothering Earth, Sherilyn MacGregor argues that celebrations of “earth care” as women’s unique contribution to the search for sustainability often neglect to consider the importance of politics and citizenship in women’s lives. Drawing on interviews with women who juggle private caring with civic engagement in quality-of-life concerns, she proposes an alternative: a project of feminist ecological citizenship that affirms the practice of citizenship as an intrinsically valuable activity while recognizing the foundational aspects of caring labour and natural processes that allow its specificity to flourish. Her interdisciplinary analysis not only breaks through hierarchical ways of conceptualizing gender, nature, and civic virtue, but also breaks new ground for reconceptualizing the category “citizen.”Beyond Mothering Earth provides an original and empirically grounded understanding of women’s involvement in quality-of-life activism and an analysis of citizenship that makes an important contribution to contemporary discussions of green politics, globalization, neoliberalism, and democratic justice. It will be of value to scholars and activists interested in the politics of environmental sustainability and the shifting meanings of citizenship in an increasingly vulnerable world.


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