NWSA, A History 2005– 26th National Conference
Thursday, May 21, 2020
26th National Conference | "Women and the Environment: Globalizing and Mobilizing" | June 9-12 | Orlando, Florida
In 2005, NWSA held its 26th conference, "Women and the Environment: Globalizing and Mobilizing." The theme was made in dedication to Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize for her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace." In 1977 – the same year as NWSA's founding – Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on planting trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. You can see her 2004 Nobel Lecture below.
Women of color, particularly Indigenous and Black women, have long identified environmental justice as a critical axis of oppression that plays a central and complex role in the lives of women of color and must be understood and challenged for any kind of generative racial and gender justice work. The 2005 conference keynote and first plenary sessions gave space for those perspectives. Below are the keynote and plenary speakers and their presentation titles and abstracts.
Vandana Shiva – "Terra Madre: Women and the Environment" [Keynote]
Climate change, water stress, biodiversity erosion, and food insecurity pose life threatening environmental challenges, with women paying the highest price.
The human costs of the tragic Tsunami, amplified by the destruction of coastal ecosystems by a globalized shrimp trade and tourist industry, is an example of the growing ecological vulnerability and threat to human survival.
Economic systems that destroy the fragile fabric of the planet also destroy women's knowledge, power, creativity and productivity. Such systems are based on exclusion, on control, on monopoly ownership, on monocultures.
Yet women are leading the search and practice of alternatives that protect the planet and the earth's ecological processes. Women as Seed Keepers and Water Keepers, as food producers and fair traders are creating alternatives that work for all - all species, all human - not just for a few. Women are shaping and protecting the future through values of inclusion, participation, sharing and diversity.
Winona LaDuke – "Motherhood, Politics, and the Environment"
This talk will examine the relationship between personal responsibility and civil responsibility as a framework to discuss and redefine women's issues drawing upon the topics of politics, motherhood and the environment.
Jill Schneiderman – "Which Women? Which Environment? Globalizing, Mobilizing, and Extrapolating for Equity and Justice"
Jill Schneiderman will offer a personal reflection on the multiple meanings of the phrase 'women and environment' Embracing feminist philosopher Chris Cuomo's idea that fundamental to ecological feminism, among other things, is Ian ethic of flourishing.' Schneiderman will articulate a vision of feminist environmentalism that encompasses a multiplicity of voices and places and whose goal is a future robust with justice and equity. To do so, she will draw on her work as a feminist earth scientist and queer parent as well as the history of science and political activism.
Karen J. Warren – "An Ecofeminist Philosophical: Perspective on 'Women and the Environment: Globalizing and Mobilizing'"
This presentation does three things: First, it provides a brief overview of the positions advanced in the name of ecofeminism (or ecological feminism). Second, it provides a distinctly ecofeminist philosophical perspective on the interconnections among unjustified dominations of women of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, geographical locations, and colonial legacies, with the unjustified dominations of nonhuman animals and the environment.
Below are examples of how other presenters at the 2005 conference were conceptualizing the role of environmental justice in their papers and sessions.
"Anarchist Environmentalism: A View from the Frontlines"
This paper explores the role of women in direct action radical environmental groups such as Earth First! in the United States and the United Kingdom. I discuss women's contributions to the radical environmental thought originating at the intersection of deep ecology, anarchist, and ecofeminist theories and action.
"Feminism in the Fields: Gender, GMOs, and Sustainability
The gendering of the debate over GMOs is both explicit and implicit, and intersects with many previously articulated feminist concerns about nature, culture, science and the environment. This paper will discuss the role that feminist critiques can and do play in the global debate over genetically modified organisms, the environment and sustainability.
"Resisting U.S. Militarism: Consequences for Women, the Environment, and Indigenous Cultures"
This panel explores the connections between environmental destruction, attacks on indigenous cultures, and women's suffering caused by U.S. militarism, particular on military bases worldwide, indigenous lands, and in theaters of war. Various cultural manifestations of these connections and women's resistance to militarism are examined in all the papers.
"Environmental (In)Security and the Greening of Hate: Scape"
Popular opinion and US policy often defines immigration as a threat to national security. In recent years however, immigration from the Global South has also been defined as a threat to US environmental security. I examine mainstream Environmental Security discourse around the US/Mexico border, including support for Arizona's Proposition 200.
"Black Women's Activism and Knowledge Construction in the Environment Justice Movement"
This paper reports the findings of qualitative research exploring the ways in which Black women environmental justice activists learn and construct knowledge. Data analysis, informed by Black FeministThought, yielded findings around the three major themes: (1) positioning, place and purpose shapes learning; 2) spiritual knowing/wisdom guided activists' knowledge development; and, 3) knowledge transfer is intentional.
"Conduct Unbecoming: Global Violence and Public-Corporate Alliance"
This panel will address how political and industrial systems network to create a foundation for the development of global capitalism, thus placing the global environment in jeopardy. Each paper will discuss the effects of corporate initiatives on marginalized groups and suggest needed strategies for women's studies and feminist response.
"Environmental Justice from South USA to Kenya"
We'll explore Kenyan and African-American women's role in the global Environmental Justice movement highlighting the grassroots struggle against the Defense Depot in Memphis; the Green Belt Movement in Kenya; and other struggles in South USA. We'll show the commonality of these struggles and their contributions and challenges to the mainstream environmental movement."
"Keeping It Clean: Globalization, Domestic Work, and the Philippine Environment"
With privatization and deregulation of many national industries, the Philippine environment, particularly the indigenous regions, have been scoured by transnational corporations in search of precious natural resources. This paper seeks to explore the connections between the environmental degradation of the Philippine natural environment as a result of globalizing processes, and the unprecedented export of Filipino women who are made to clean the domestic "environment" of First World homes.
"Chicana Activists Sustainers of Grassroots Environmentalism"
Women as organizers and activists are working within a broad context of environment and education. This research highlights the voices, lives, and knowledge of women of color in environmental activism. A new and neglected perspective to the field of environmental education, this case study contributes to an innovative discourse.
"Rethinking Environmentalism and Animal Rights in the Third World: Gender, Race, and Activism in South America"
As an immigrant to the United States and a Brazilian, I have lived within activist community groups and been active in organizing for community grassroots' groups in Brazil and the United States whose concern have revolved around environmental justice, gender justice and animal justice. In doing so, I have met many humanists who have described environmental and animal issues to be always on the periphery or non-existent in "third world" nations.
"Teaching Ecofeminism: Academic Activists and Activist Academics"
Teaching ecofeminism always poses the conundrum of how to balance the theoretical, academic ecofeminist thought and writings with the political and spiritual spheres. We propose to discuss how teaching about connections between ecofeminist thought and environmental activism empowers students to bring both feminist insights and critical thinking to global problems.
"Women and War: Toxic Environments"
This panel examines some of the emotional, psychological, and environmental health issues of a United States war economy heavily involved with the development and deployment of radioactive weapons technology. Panelists connect local and global issues by 1) explicating the effects of a militarized society on American family structures; and 2) addressing the long-term health and environmental problems of modern warfare.
"Jane WTO: Direct Action, Jail Solidarity, and the Global Justice Movement"
The Global Justice Movement has reinvigorated its tactical repertoire to include continued protest inside the jails and courts. This presentation is based upon interviews with activist women who recount their stories of protest, arrest, imprisonment, court cases, and ultimate success in fighting for fair trade and environmental protection.
"Biocolonialism, Global Capitalist Regimes, and Resistance to Gender Equity: Indigenous and Feminist Struggles for Social Justice and Environmental Health"
Privatizing water, claiming ownership of a people's genes, avoiding gender equity requirements in sustainable environmental projects, are all problematic aspects of global capitalist regimes that have devastating consequences for women, indigenous peoples, and peoples of the Global South. These papers examine different aspects of these global struggles for environmental justice.
See the full program here
From the Executive Director
I am delighted to welcome you to the National Women's Studies Association 26th annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
We have much to celebrate here together. When the Norwegian Nobel Committee selected The Honorable Wangari Maathai as the 2004 Peace Prize recipient, they remarked that "Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally."
Our conference theme, "Women and the Environment: Globalizing and Mobilizing," similarly recognizes that feminism, environmentalism, and other forms of social justice activism necessarily overlap. Let us honor and advance Maathai's work during this conference, where those of us who are dedicated to women's studies education have an opportunity to meet, exchange ideas and activist strategies, and share the latest feminist scholarship.
As an organization, NWSA is poised for growth and development. Members overwhelmingly approved the Association's new constitution, which calls for a Delegate Assembly that places more NWSA leaders in positions that directly affect the activities, governance, and policies of the Association.
NWSA has many new projects underway. The Association is updating its most-requested publication, the Guide to Graduate Work in Women's Studies, and expects to develop new women of color and feminist theory syllabi collections in the coming months. A committee has begun to investigate the prospect of developing a K-12 women's studies curriculum, and NWSA is launching a speaker's bureau for the 2005-06 academic year.
Information about NWSA has appeared in a variety of news outlets in the United States and India. Our fundraising campaign has raised more than $17,000 in contributions and pledges to date, or 85 percent of our $20,000 goal amount.
In short, NWSA's future looks very bright, and we could not have chosen a better location than sunny Orlando to look ahead together.
Allison B. Kimmich
Below are the 2005 NWSA governance members, as well as the NWSA staff team. You can see the current Governing Council members, conference co-chairs, and staff members here.
See the rest of the history project here
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About the Writer
Victoria Agunod is the office assistant at the National Women's Studies Association, as well as an adjunct faculty member in the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies Program at DePaul University. Victoria received their BA and MA in Women's and Gender Studies at DePaul. They first attended NWSA in 2018 and presented their research on university students organizing for racial justice against the new alt-right galvanized by the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They joined the NWSA team the following year. Their teaching emphases are on women of color feminisms, racial justice movements and organizing, and neoliberal rhetorical and cultural influences.
Please note: The information compiled in this project comes from the archived conference programs at the University of Maryland, College Park.