African American Feminism in Environmental Humanities



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Intersectional intellectualism in African American feminism based on subjectivity and analytic is about minoritarian affinities to expose the interweaving of the power structure (Kimberle Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins). It is open-ended to diversity and inclusion of new categorization in discourse and politics. However, intersectionality is opposite from neoliberal pluralism due to its critique of structural exclusions based on power differentials and constraining norms. According to Jennifer C. Nash, intersectional intellectualism can be re-imagined in new directions that can unfold Black feminist visionary world-making possibilities. However, scant attention has been paid to the aspect of African American feminist intersectional intellectualism in the environmental humanities. This dissertation focused on African American women's life writers reveals that historical intersectionality can be integrated with the conceptual intersectionality in contemporary feminist theories in New Materialism to explore and articulate knowledge practices against racism and anthropocentrism. For Donna Haraway in When Species Meet, the posthumanist subjectivity with an emphasis on onto-epistemology and ethics encourages learning to live intersectionally. This research project has focused on African American feminist life writers Zora Neale Hurston, Lucille Clifton, and Alice Walker as critical knowledge producers. The study reveals that these life writings critically engage with the discursive productions of racism and anthropocentrism in modern Eurocentric anthropology, technology, and designs of cultivation. Moreover, these writers also move beyond the dominant discourses to articulate their ecological consciousness and activism against environmental racism based on their “living with and through” flora in their historical contexts. The study contributes to the development of African American feminist praxis in the environmental humanities in which methodology, onto-epistemology, and ethics are interwoven. African American women life writers’ intersectionality, as opposed to parallelism, contributes to the contemporary feminist transcorporeal entanglement between human actors and nature. This intellectual approach does not reproduce hierarchical dichotomies of self/other, human/nonhuman, culture/nature, material/discursive, and intellectualism/activism.



African American Feminism, Life Writing, New Materialism, Subjectivity, Ecological Consciousness, Epistemology, Ethical Activism.