“Protect our Waters”: Indigenous Women's Activism and Climate Justice

deadline for submissions: 
March 18, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Gender Forum: An Internet Journal for Gender Studies

“You can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil,”“Protect the Sacred”and “Water is Life”are slogans which shaped the year 2016 and which keep reverberating ever since. As Indigenous environmental activism in recent years shows, women have been and continue to be on the forefront of environmental protection on communal, national and global levels. The #IdleNoMore movement, founded by Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilson in 2012, offers a key example for the involvement and activism of Indigenous women protesting resource extraction on Indigenous lands, related issues of human rights and social justice abuses, for powerful Indigenous and non-Indigenous alliances, and alliances between numerous marginalized groups against heteronormative frameworks of power. The #NoDAPL movement continues this joint anti corporate-capitalist effort to stop the erosion of rights of (Indigenous) people in favor of resource extraction, endangering the livelihood of people across North America. The Australian #StopAdani protest and most recently the We’suwet’en camp in British Columbia continue this trajectory of climate justice activism, and foreground the role and contribution of women in this struggle. The year of 2018 then saw the election of Sharice Davis and Deb Haaland to the Unites States Congress, which marks the first election of Indigenous women into major positions of power –a “milestone in the US political system,”as Eli Warkins commented for CNN (2018).

This issue of Gender Forum is thus dedicated to the exploration of female involvement in the project of de-constructing corporate power, resisting neo-colonial ventures into Indigenous (land) rights, and protecting the foundation of human subsistence against commodification. Are those efforts effective manifestations of what Ulrich Beck (1997) has termed “Sub-Politics”and/or agents of an emerging process Beck et al. (2003) described as “reflexive modernization,”unsettling the basic ideological premises of institutionalized power and (environmental) governance? What is the future of environmental activism and how do female activists help shaping and inspiring future engagement and strategies? How to conceptualize/systematize the interrelationship of climate change, social justice and human rights beyond Rob Nixon’s concept of“the environmentalism of the poor”(2011)? And, crucially, how do these lines of concern contribute to debates about Gender and the global cause for women’s rights generally?

Marking this increased visibility of female Indigenous actors in local and global causes for environmental and climate justice, we invite papers investigating the role of women in challenging frameworks of political engagement, action and power, which may include but are not limited to:

  • Theorizations of Climate Justice and environmental activism
  • Tracing women’s environmental activism through history
  • Cross-overs between environmental- and other, related fields of activism
  • Cross-overs between Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental activism/ Indigenous and non-Indigenous alliances
  • Issues of land rights, sovereignty and legislation (Bill C-45 and beyond)
  • The representation of women activists across time, genres and media
  • The role(s) of the arts in environmental protest
  • Eco-Feminsim and its evolution of focus and approach since the 1970s
  • The role of the Internet and Social Media in environmental activism
  • Environmental activism and its implication for global women’s rights advocacy
  • Reviews of fiction and non-fiction work related to the field sketched above

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a brief biography should be submitted by March 18th, 2019 to gender-forum[at]uni-koeln.de and David Kern kernd[at]uni-koeln.de. The deadline for the completed papers of 5000-8000 words (MLA 8, numbered paragraphs) is April 21th, 2019.

(Publication date: Summer/Fall 2019)