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Towards Day 16 (Mon, Nov. 5): Feminist Ecology & Economics

Anne Dalke's picture

weather prediction: 42 degrees, 9 mph winds, 10 % chance of precipiation, clear
mturer is gathering us (briefly!?) outside...
(next Monday: Nan-or-graham?)

I. coursekeeping
* on Wednesday, we will conduct our long-delayed botanical exploration of Morris Woods (heads up about what to wear/expect/read/think about/do afterwards....)

* on Thursday, your site sit posting should incorporate this experience

* on Sunday
, you should post again on Serendip, in conversation w/ your classmates about what we've been discussing/experiencing; last week I tried prompts, which didn't work

* though this week I'm posting some possibilities for a field trip:
Mill Creek (see map of BMC physiography, from BMC Campus Heritage Preservation Initiative, attached below)
Dove Lake
Pennypack Park and Environmental Center (named after the Lenape word for deep, slow moving water)
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge @ Tinicum (established to protect the last 200 acres of freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania; from Lenape word "tennicunk" meaning "island" or "along the edge of the island")
Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, which tells the story of the Schuylkill River and the urban watershed; the Lenape called it Ganshohawanee, meaning "rushing and roaring waters," or "Manaiunk"; it was later given the Dutch name Schuylkill-- "hideout creek"? "hidden river?" referencing the river's (nearly hidden) confluence with the Delaware?

you're also welcome to explore the readings further,
to play out something you/we didn't get to explore fully in class...

* also, signing up in pairs (to meet up w/ the E'Smers)
didn't work: (we need 1, not 2, groups of 3!), so try again!

* and: what are we going to do about the Wednesday before Thanksgiving?
(second day to discuss Terry Tempest Williams' collection of essays, An Unspoken Hunger....)

* any questions re: course-keeping?

II. On Wednesday we talked about "thinking ecologically" about the hurricane,
and began to look
@ how ecological  concerns might inflected, not
just by gender, but also by racial and cultural history:
Jamaica Kincaid's "Alien Soil,"
Evelyn White's "Black Women and the Wilderness,"
Anthony and Soule's "Multicultural Approach to Ecopsychology,"
and The Winona LaDuke Reader...

froggies315 since pointed us toward a very related audio/video by Glenis Redmond,
“What Hangs on Trees" (and I added Billie Holliday's haunting song, "Strange Fruit")

III. a few more ideas you wrote/we didn't get to talk about last week
nice careful reading of Kincaid's essay on "Alien Soil," less attention to the other texts
(pass out our notes again, read silently, then aloud what is of interest,
perhaps especially from p. 14, on the intersections we saw among the texts?)
* shadows of the past affect present behavior
* experiential knowledge continues to affect us when we move to a new place
* but how forge a meaningful connection w/ a place, in this era of constant movement?
* doing things heightens awareness of scary things
* what does "being displaced" do to your relationship to the environment?
(have you/are you being treated "just like the environment"?

IV. today we add to the conversation the economic lens of Marilyn Waring,
very much akin to the traditional ecological knowledge advocated by Winona LaDuke

some framing:
* what is economics? (anyone studied this?)
* what is ecology? (our current understanding/working definition)
* shared root, "Oikos"/home/household (ology =study of; nomics= management of)
* what is the conventional relation between them?
* what does Waring see as the necessary relation?
* what do women, and women's work (in her view, and ours) have to do w/ either?

V. Listening Notes from Who's Counting?
"uni-dimensional economical fabrication cannot contain our lives"

my legitimacy from having "a place to stand"
recording the time-use of women (vs. men) reveals the
magnitude of the invisibility of women's work
subsistence production is, macroeconomically, of little or no importance

the United Nations Systems of National Accounts = rules of economic measurement are highly selective,
and serve as [an inadequate] basis of many important decisions about whose needs will be met
they attend only to those activities which have a cash-generating capacity
(i.e. what passes through the market system);
the only value recognized is money, regardless of how it is made
there is no value to peace, preservation of natural resources for future generations,
unpaid work, including reproducing human life, or feeding and nurturing one's own families

this system cannot respond to values it refuses to recognize
it leaves out the work of 1/2 the population of the planet,
and of the planet itself; it is encouraging environmental disaster
this economic system can eventually kill us all
the 5 members of the Security Council are the 5 primary arms exporters
killing people (or preparing to kill them) is very important in the economic system
to ensure a market, it is in the interest of the leading arms
exporters to be sure that there is always a war going on
these deaths are not registered as a deficit in the system

traditional practices make perfect sense; why change them? why behave any other way?
manufacture of fluorocarbons (which are so destructive) count as growth in the international economic system
"there's never any debit side, in terms of this kind of development"
(scarring of the landscape, ruin of the habitat, etc.)
you can't put a value on the purity of water
economics is a tool/justification of those who want to exploit
as a so-called science, it doesn't allow for the introduction of values
that don't find their way into an economic formula
economics' jargon dismisses value-laden language
the value of this mountain reveals the absolute hollowness of the economic forms we have to work with
need for time-use measurements, to show where the needs are
once we recognize that the emperor has no clothes,
our strategies can be broad and wide as our imaginations can make them--
and we should have a lot of fun along the way

Epilogue: "they look nice among the goats"
"(music to close): Ain't Life Sweet"--"take your money, keep it; don't tell me who to become;
take your age-old wisdom w/ you, degrees and all that education won't help me…in the country…."

VI. Reading Notes from Counting for Nothing

Steinem's Preface (anyone hear her speak @ HC last Friday night?)
on the practical pleasure of finding a secure and happy economist!
institutionalized invisibilities of women's work and lack of value imputed to environment
need to make reproduction visible

Introduction: illusion that everything can be reduced to a price
initial idea: empower ecosystem by giving it a monetary value-->
disable system by taking economics on @ its own game
pretense of scientific prediction, control, and objective, reproducible experiments
mistaken belief that maximizing individual self interest results in optimal allocation of resources
much non-market economic activity absent from the models

but what is the "cost" of visibility in patently pathological value system?
do we want all life commodified in economic model?
(if all production were included, unemployment would be impossible by definition!)
no demarcation in subsistence household between production inside or outside consumption
alternative to the GDP/GNP (Gross Domestic Product/Gross National Product):
Human Development Index (based on life expectancy, literacy, etc.)
a key missing indicator in the GDP and GNP is time use
which is employed in Nova Scotia's Genuine Progress Indicators (GPI):
these distinguish activities that produce an actual decline in well-being

conventional labour market surveys are too narrowly conceived, with a loss of texture and specificity
each country needs to draw up a comprehensive balance sheet of natural resources
International Society for Ecological Economics is interested in integrating the
management of nature's household (ecology) with human kinds' household (economics)
they see the framework of national income accounting as mechanistic, atomistic, lacking
representation of materials, energy sources, physical structure, time-dependent processes
lunatic proposal to market pollution as "carbon trading"
(sell your surplus capacity to a heavy polluter!)
constant commodification legitimizes theft on a global scale
asking wrong questions: should ask what economy is for,
how much is enough, what provides joy, happiness, peace, satisfaction?

proposed triangulation of methodologies:
1) assemble physical environmental characteristics,
give visibility to intergenerational consequence of externalities,
and do not impute monetary valuations for anything
2) describe time-use data
3) assemble GNP/GDP statistic but recognize costs, depreciation, deterioration, depletion

Chapter 11: If Counting was the Limit of Intelligence
Stage One: Imputing a Value for Women's Work
reconceptualize household as a productive, not consuming unit
conservative reform = form of co-option
all forms of value reflected in economic activity of men in marketplace
global ecosystem still exploited, w/ throughput viewed as flow from infinite source to infinite sink;
environment is not a free good, need to distinguish between renewable and nonrenewable resources
need to expose values, divide income/expenditure into
"creative" and "destructive" production, consumption, services

Stage Two: Economic Welfare
Measure of Economic Welfare subtracted items not contributing to economic welfare,
added those that do (but are not counted);
include environment, distinguishing what can be recycled
from that which is permanently degraded by use (change in quality of the resource)

Stage Three: Coming Full Circle
pressing non-economic values into framework of economic calculus
is based on absurb premise that everything has a price--
but values are always those of a participant observer

Epilogue: Call to Action
what we can do is only limited by our imagination:
proclaim visibility, worth of women, and of water/world

BMCampusHeritagePreservationInitiative.pdf1.92 MB