Gender and Environment

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSHE2ED3152

Semester and Year Offered: IIIrd Semester; 2nd Year

Course Coordinator and Team:Dr Budhaditya Das

Email of course coordinator: budhaditya[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Course Description:

This course introduces feminist perspectives of looking at environmental issues and conflicts, the relationship between gender and environment in the Global South, and discusses how gender complicates the fields of environmental politics, science and governance. It also provides an overview of the intersections of environmental and women’s movements of the last forty years, their common agendas, interests and contestations. It aims to examine diverse theoretical perspectives that engage with these issues and how they influence and critique conventional interpretations, policy practice and research outcomes.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Introduce the concept of gender and its relationship with environment in the Global South.
  2. To understand debates regarding gendered representations of nature, and women’s association with environment in history and public culture.
  3. To critically examine the role of eco-feminist theory and practice in shaping environmental politics and women’s movements in the Third World.
  4. To understand how gender roles and identities shape access, ownership and use of natural resources, such as land, forests and water.
  5. To understand the potential and outcomes of inclusion of gender concerns in environmental policy and governance.

Course Outcomes:

On the successful of completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Read, comprehend and analyse key texts within the field of gender and environment from the fields of anthropology, geography and feminist studies.
  2. Think critically regarding gender relations and discourses in human societies and the workings of gender in social institutions.
  3. Understand the role of gender identities in use, ownership and management of land and other natural resources in the Global South.
  4. Analyse and evaluate environmental and natural resource laws, policies and programmes through the lens of equity and gender justice.
  5. Conceptualise interdisciplinary research projects with a gendered perspective and feminist epistemologies.
  6. Develop self-awareness of the implications of gender identities and reflexivity vis-a-vis their own positionality as students and researchers.
  7. Recognise and celebrate the diversity of gender and other identities in communities and multicultural societies.
  8. Comprehend contemporary social transformations throughout their lives with sensitivity, empathy and through the lens of gender justice.

Brief Description of Modules:

  1. Conceptualising Gender :This introductory module delineates the concept of gender as it has evolved in the social sciences, distinguishing it from sex and biological characteristics. The module will focus upon gendered roles and identities in the spheres of production and reproduction, with an emphasis on concepts of patriarchy and intersectionality.
  2. Troubled Relationships: nature, nurture and women:The idea that women are culturally and materially linked to nature will be examined in this module. Links between patriarchal oppression and human domination of the non-human will be explored in philosophical thought, environmental campaigns and socio-cultural practices.
  3. Approaches to Understand Relationships between Gender and Nature :The module will engage with theories of ecofeminism, feminist environmentalism and feminist political ecology. The relevance and use of these frameworks in Third World contexts will be examined, as will be the points of agreement and the grounds of contention between them.
  4. Women and Environmental Movements: justice, participation and resistance:This module will highlight the role of women in environmental movements, and the adoption of ecological concerns by feminist struggles. Using case studies like Chipko and social movements against hydropower projects, this module will interrogate the ways in which collective action takes into account feminist concerns.
  5. Women in Agrarian Environments: Resource Regimes and Production Relations:The gendered access and ownership of natural resources and its implications for livelihoods, poverty and development will be discussed in this module. Women’s access to land, forests and water will be studied, and how this shapes production relations within and outside the household.
  6. Mainstreaming Gender in Environmental Projects: Law and Policy Imperatives:The final module will examine the practices of gendering natural resource governance in the last two decades. It will ask the question if greater involvement of women in decision making processes can make environmental governance more democratic and effective.

Assessment Details with Weights:

  • In-class quizzes: 25%
  • In-class presentations: 25%
  • Take-home essay: 30%
  • End-semester exam: 20%

Reading List:

  • Agarwal, B.(1994). A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mies, M. and Shiva, V (1993). Ecofeminism. Fernwood publications
  • Agarwal, B. (2000). Conceptualizing environmental collective action:why gender matters. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 24, 283-310
  • Cleaver,F. and Hamada,K (2010) ‘Good’ water governance and gender equity: a troubled relationship. Gender & Development, 18:1, 27-41,
  • Gururani, S. (2010). Forests of Pleasure and Pain:Gendered practices of labor and livelihood in the forestsof the Kumaon Himalayas,India. Gender, Place & Culture:A Journal of FeministGeography, 9(3), 229-243
  • Jewitt, Sarah. 2000. Mothering earth? Gender and environmental protection in the Jharkhand, India, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 27:2, 94-131.
  • Leach, M. 2007. Earth Mother Myths and Other Ecofeminist Fables: How a Strategic Notion Rose and Fell. Development and Change 38(1): 67‐85
  • Shiva, V. (1988).Staying Alive: Women, ecology and survival in India.New Delhi:Kali for Women.