Gabriela Mistral and the Etymology of Ecological Thinking
AbstractThis project frames itself around the poetry and prose of Chilean poet and essayist Gabriela Mistral, and considers their function as a foundation for contemporary feminist ecological discourse. To do so, the study takes up Greta Gaard’s call to revive ecofeminism in her 2011 article “Ecofeminism Revisited,” and explores to what extent ecofeminism, a theoretical school of thought that emerged and was cast aside as essentialist during the last few decades of the twentieth century, persists in the guise of less controversial monikers. One such moniker is Lorraine Code’s “feminist ecological thinking,” a term that appears in her 2006 book entitled Ecological Thinking: The Politics of Epistemic Location. Code is careful to avoid essentialist language when she describes feminist ecological thinking as an “imaginary” that infuses, shapes and circulates “throughout the social-material-intellectual-affective atmosphere(s) like the air we breathe.” Yet, to what extent does this name change constitute a true paradigm shift, and what carries through from ecofeminism to feminist ecological thinking? To approach the question, this project first addresses how Mistral’s 1931 essay, “Conversando sobre la tierra” (‘Talking About the Land’), anticipates early ecofeminist rhetoric, and then illustrates how etymological considerations of “nostalgia,” “lunatic” and “soul” in her later poems echo Code’s feminist ecological imaginary. This analytical trajectory speaks to Gaard’s call for the revision and revival of ecofeminism, and it is through the oeuvre of Mistral that ecofeminism and feminist ecological thinking find common ground.
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