Environmentalism in Popular Culture
240 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:12 Dec 2008

Environmentalism in Popular Culture

Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural

The University of Arizona Press
In this thoughtful and highly readable book, Noël Sturgeon illustrates the myriad and insidious ways in which American popular culture depicts social inequities as “natural” and how our images of “nature” interfere with creating solutions to environmental problems that are just and fair for all. Why is it, she wonders, that environmentalist messages in popular culture so often “naturalize” themes of heroic male violence, suburban nuclear family structures, and U.S. dominance in the world? And what do these patterns of thought mean for how we envision environmental solutions, like “green” businesses, recycling programs, and the protection of threatened species?
Although there are other books that examine questions of culture and environment, this is the first book to employ a global feminist environmental justice analysis to focus on how racial inequality, gendered patterns of work, and heteronormative ideas about the family relate to environmental questions. Beginning in the late 1980s and moving to the present day, Sturgeon unpacks a variety of cultural tropes, including ideas about Mother Nature, the purity of the natural, and the allegedly close relationships of indigenous people with the natural world. She investigates the persistence of the “myth of the frontier” and its extension to the frontier of space exploration. She ponders the popularity (and occasional controversy) of penguins (and penguin family values) and questions assumptions about human warfare as “natural.”
The book is intended to provoke debates—among college students and graduate students, among their professors, among environmental activists, and among all citizens who are concerned with issues of environmental quality and social equality.
Sturgeon’s book creates the field of ‘environmental cultural studies’ through her intersectional analysis, which merges the perspectives of environmental justice, ecofeminism, and environmentalism.’—Greta Gaard, author of The Nature of Home: Taking Root in a Place

‘If environmentalists—and by this I mean all of us who live on the planet and rely upon nature for our very survival—can take these criticisms to heart and try to imagine a more sustainable social and ecological future, then this book’s seemingly grim assessments will have paid off.’—Scott Slovic, author of Going Away to Think: Engagement, Retreat, and Ecocritical Responsibility
Noël Sturgeon is a professor of Women's Studies at Washington State University. She is the author of Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory, and Political Action.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Developing a Global Feminist Environmental Justice Analysis to Understand the Politics of the Natural
1. The Politics of the Natural in U.S. History and Popular Culture
2. Frontiers of Nature: The Ecological Indian in U.S. Film
3. “Forever New Frontiers”: Extraterrestrialism and U.S. Militarism in Space
4. “The Power Is Yours, Planeteers!” Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Children’s Environmentalist Popular Culture
5. Penguin Family Values: The Nature of Planetary Environmental Reproductive Justice
6. Planetary Security, Militarism, and the Nature of Violence
7. Purity and Privilege or Justice and Sustainability? Natural Consumers in the Global Economy

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