Ecowomanist Vision: A Union Story

By Melanie L. Harris, Ph.D. ’06, Unitas Distinguished Alumna ’17
Ecowomanism is critical and contemplative reflection on the environmental crisis from the perspective of women of African descent. Connecting ecological justice with Womanist theology and ethics, the new lens argues that intersectional race, class, and gender analysis be applied when examining environmental racism. The first step of ecowomanist method is to honor experience. Ecopoetry helps us to do just that. The poetry written above is reflective of one Union experience. As a graduate whose entering class was confronted with the realities of September 11, 2001, I enter the world of environmental ethics through the doors of comparative and constructive theologies, because it is central to recognize the truths in many religions if we are to face climate change. Honoring our experiences, be they filled with racial tensions, intellectual bliss, or conflict, this methodological step invites us to reflect on how our theological frameworks concerning the earth may be shaped by our passion for social justice. Since social justice is earth justice, it becomes central from an ecowomanist perspective to develop an intersectional lens through which one can examine what one believes about God, the earth, and the right of all beings to have equal access to environmental health.
Step two of the method uncovers the power of critical reflection. Beckoning us to “crawl back through history” and examine the “cargo cults,” to borrow a phrase from historian Charles Long, this step pushes us to confront the normativity of value hierarchies that place

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