Presentation – Ecofeminism in the Digital Age
I am interested in connection and disconnection. Through my digital artefact I want to find a means to connect people to each other, to their innate knowledge, to the earth, to health, to their place in the complex ecosystem that is the planet we live on, and to the connections between the health of the planet and their personal health. In the creation of my digital artefact, I am also interested in looking at the question of what stimulates us into action: Art? Literature? Social media? Education? Personal experience?
What is the motivation that people need to affect positive change? And how can I create a digital artifact that can help to do this?
My research question as I see it now, is: How can technology be used in contemporary, practical applications of ecofeminist theory to reconnect humans with their power in relation to their health and the health of the planet through reconnecting with nature, autonomy and instinctual knowledge?
People are, intrinsically, human beings in the world: In the physical reality of being here in the world, with the understanding that being in the world is in itself an inherently human trait; without the world we are not human, for we are of the world, and cannot be without it. And in the awareness that as an integral and interconnected part of nature we have a responsibility to it and to ourselves as actors and functional members within it.
Disconnection from ourselves as humans in the world and of the world is the root of so many issues in our society. The remedy to this, according to ecofeminist thought, is to support reconnection with intuitive, natural awareness and with responsibility to nature. The motivation driving ecofeminism was, and is, the creation of a new kind of culture and politics – integrating the intuitive-spiritual with rational forms of knowledge, enabling transformation of the nature-culture distinction and creating a free and ecological society (Plant).
I see a loss in natural connections between human and earth health, especially in relation to modern, orthodox medicine and perceptions of health and wellness. The patriarchal, capitalist dominance of medicine, where the principles of modern health care are seen as a necessary form of power over women’s agency and choice (“Symphysiotomy Report Begets More Questions”), has created a terminal loss of power and autonomy in the medical system. Bringing ecofeminism into medicine could help to redress the balance of power within the system.
For a digital artefact, I would like to explore the idea of “Power Stories” – lamenting the loss of power and autonomy in the orthodox medical system. The divide between active participation and informed choice and the medicine of the passive victim versus the autonomous actor. This would be a forum for telling stories from within the medical world, orthodox and “alternative”. The stories could be both positive and negative, but I would like to explore how perceptions of power function and affect people within the orthodox versus the traditional, “alternative” medical systems.
There is a catharsis in the telling of a story; people feel the need to tell their stories, but they also need to be listened to. I hope my artefact can provide the forum for the telling but also the sense of being heard, and that through that telling and hearing perhaps we can break down barriers and begin the process of affecting real world change.
Considering also expression through art, and how this could inspire change and activism: Art can be a powerful means of social stimulus. Within the digital world, art can quickly create a shift in consciousness and awareness by being shared on social media, by “going viral”. The nature and ubiquity of social media as a means of communication is demonstrates humans are living in a more instantly visually influenced digital culture than ever before. This realisation inspires me to think of creating an archive of ecofeminist art as a digital artefact, possibly using tools like Omeka or Scalar. I would hope that this kind of archive could connect expression and messages through art to issues within our culture, and could act as a visual stimulus to communicate quickly, globally and to inspire action for change.
Within the current orthodox medical model; humans have become passive victims of disease, instead of active participants in both health and recovery. Traditional methods of healing are all based on an affinitive framework, with an acknowledged relationship between the ‘sick’ and the healer, the medicine and the ‘sick’ and the medicine and the environment. This is a cyclical model based on the idea that illness is not an externally located occurrence based on cause and effect. Orthodox medicine is often spoken of in terms of ‘fighting’ the offending disease, as though ‘it’ were a separate, invading entity. This is a disconnect. We are part of nature, so are diseases, and so should be our medicine and our health care.
Through a widespread acceptance of the dominant narrative in health, which encourages a giving away and outsourcing of power to perceived authority figures, we have become less human, less natural, less aware. If we can reject this narrative with its underlying prioritisation of profit over health, and reconnect with our innate knowledge, we can regain our power over ourselves and over our medicine. This knowledge transfers from self-awareness to planetary-awareness. If we are in control of our personal ecosystems (our bodies and minds), then that control can be translated to our view of our place in the world, and the impact our actions can have upon it. This has a vital impact on human perceptions of ability to influence the environmental and on the power we must all take back if there is any hope of preventing our planet from being degraded beyond the point of no return. I think that technology is the tool by which humans will reconnect to make positive change in the world, especially if we use it sympathetically, thoughtfully and in harmony with nature.
To affect change, motivation, action and activism are needed, “Health activism involves a challenge to the existing order whenever it is perceived to lead to a social injustice or health inequality and uses a range of tactics that vary according to the function, structure and purpose of those trying to redress the imbalance of power that has created the situation in the first place.”(Laverack) I want my digital artefact to record or inspire this re-balancing, or both. A challenge to the dominant narrative in medicine – this is health activism. In this sense I see health activism as being the desire and action to make a positive difference to the world around us. If meaningful connections can be made in our society between nature and health, nature and medicine, nature and humanity and human and earth health, then it is my hope that the ethos of ecofeminism can be brought into the medical consciousness, and subsequently transferred to the collective understanding about human responsibility for the health of the earth.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “Transcript of ‘The Danger of a Single Story.’” N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Deidre English. Witches, Midwives, and Nurses. 2nd ed. N.p. books.google.ie. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
Laverack, Glenn. “Health Activism.” Health Promotion International 27.4 (2012): 429–434. heapro.oxfordjournals.org. Web.
Plant, Judith. Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism. New Society Publishers, 1989. Print.
“Symphysiotomy Report Begets More Questions.” N.p., 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
“The Quipu Project.” Quipu Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
“Don’t Frack Your Mother”, Artwork by Michelle Sayles, https://mikasa423.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/dontfrack.jpg
“Save the Planet Kill Yourself”, still from video, Chris Korda:
Image of man as tree with axe:http://ecosocialismcanada.blogspot.ie/2011_11_01_archive.html
Image of women as trees: “Ecofeminism.” Heidi Hutner. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.