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SustainabilityApproaches to Environmental Justice and Social Power$
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Julie Sze

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479894567

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479894567.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Man Destroys Nature?

Man Destroys Nature?

Gender, History, and the Feminist Praxis of Situating Sustainability

(p.196) 8 Man Destroys Nature?
Traci Brynne Voyles
NYU Press

This essay takes up one particular iteration of sustainability discourse, rooted in the American environmentalist tradition: seeing “man,” writ large, as an undifferentiated and usually malevolent force affecting “nature.” While this is but one strand of environmental thought, it is important (and, clearly, enduring). Here, I use this “man destroys nature” framework as a foil for this particular strand of environmental thought. That we often talk about environmental decline as a one-way street, from man to nature, reflects larger problems in how sustainability and justice are imagined. The fields of environmental feminism, environmental history, and environmental justice studies give us the tools to destabilize declensionist environmental narratives, thinking more critically about “man,” “nature,” and “destruction.” I outline key themes and contributions in these fields that offer new insights into how we can understand the complex milieu of our human relationships to the non-human world. What these fields suggest to us is that sustainabilities, like feminist epistemology, must be situated in contingent and intersectional environmental knowledge and experience.

Keywords:   sustainability, nature, environmental knowledge, environmental feminism, environmental decline, justice

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