Beyond Natures Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History

Paperback | September 5, 2012

byNancy C. Unger

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From pre-Columbian times to the environmental justice movements of the present, women and men frequently responded to the environment and environmental issues in profoundly different ways. Although both environmental history and women's history are flourishing, explorations of the synergyproduced by the interplay between environment and sex, sexuality, and gender are just beginning. Offering more than "great women in environmental history," this book examines the intersections that shaped women's unique environmental concerns and activism, and that framed the way the larger cultureresponded. Women discussed include Native Americans, colonists, enslaved field workers, pioneers, homemakers, municipal housekeepers, immigrants, hunters, nature writers, soil conservationists, scientists, migrant laborers, lesbians, nuclear protestors, and environmental justice activists. As women,they fared, thought, and acted in ways complicated by social, political, and economic norms, as well as issues of sexuality and childbearing. The housekeeping role assigned to women has long been recognized as important in environmental history. But that emphasis ignores the vast range of their influence and experiences. Enslaved women, left to do the fieldwork in disproportionate numbers, used their environmental knowledge to subtlyundermine their masters, hastening the coming of the Civil War. Many pregnant women, faced with childbirth on the western trails, eyed frontier environments with considerable apprehension. In more recent times, lesbians have created alternative environments to resist homophobia and, in manyeconomically disadvantaged communities, women have been at the forefront of the fight against environmental racism.Women are not always the heroes in this story, as when the popularity of hats lavishly decorated with feathers brought some bird species to near extinction. For better, and sometimes for worse, women have played a unique role in the shaping of the American environment. Their stories feature vibrantcharacters and shine a light on an underappreciated, often inspiring, and always complex history.

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From pre-Columbian times to the environmental justice movements of the present, women and men frequently responded to the environment and environmental issues in profoundly different ways. Although both environmental history and women's history are flourishing, explorations of the synergyproduced by the interplay between environment an...

Nancy C. Unger is Associate Professor of History at Santa Clara University. She is the author of the prize-winning biography Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer, and book review editor of The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

other books by Nancy C. Unger

Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer
Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer

Kobo ebook|Jun 19 2003

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:September 5, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199735077

ISBN - 13:9780199735075

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Sex, Sexuality, and Gender as Useful Category of Analysis in Environmental History1. Gendered Changes to the Land in Pre-Columbian and Colonial America2. The North and the South from Revolution to Civil War3. The Frontier Environment as Test of Prescribed Gender Spheres4. "Nature's Housekeepers": Progressive-Era Women as Midwives to the Conservation Movement and Environmental Consciousness5. Reasserting Female Authority: Women and the Environment from the 1920s through World War II6. Middle Class White Women in the Cold War7. Women's Alternative Environments: Fostering Gender Identity by Striving to Remake the World8. The Modern Environmental Justice MovementEpilogue: Women, Gender, and the Environment in the 21st CenturyNotesBibliographyIndex