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Myths and Realities: A Reply to Cecile Jackson
The myths that Cecile Jackson identifies in her article in nlr 210 are that self-determination and freedom are better achieved through identification with ‘nature’ rather than separation from it; the utopian assertion of the superiority of subsistence economies and communal life; the rejection of scientific knowledge in favour of local, indigenous and women’s knowledges, with the latter based on an essentialized view of women.  The core of her concern is that these myths are leading to rationality becoming a ‘dirty word’ which, in turn, undermines the potential for historical and materialist analysis: ‘We need to reassert the value of a historical and materialist analysis, informed by a deconstruction of some unexamined key terms in ecofeminist positions such as love, nature, indigenous knowledge, Third World women.’  While I have sympathy with many of Jackson’s concerns about both radical environmentalism and ecofeminism, and have expressed similar reservations elsewhere,  I think that her arguments ignore the radical potential of both movements for a historical, materialist analysis. Further, I would argue that such an analysis that is not green and feminist is incomplete.
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