Dissertation Proposal Defense - Michelle Larkins - 10/19/15

Date: October 19, 2015
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Location: 320A, Natural Resources Building

The Ties That Bind: The Intersection of Gender and Place in Community-based Environmental Justice Action

Dissertation Proposal Defense

By: Michelle L. Larkins


Date: Monday, Oct. 19, 2015

Time: 8:30 a.m.

Room: 320A, Natural Resources Building


In this dissertation I will explore the construction and negotiation of identity of women actors involved in environmental justice projects at the community level, and how these multiplex identities inform environmental realities, experiences of injustice, and claims for recognition and remediation (Whyte, 2014).  It is critical to understand that gender is performed and expressed within/against hegemonic discursive identities depending on cultural and geographic locations (Kurtz, 2007; Schippers 2007), and that ascription to a gender identity does not presuppose a universal environmental experience (Budgeon, 2013; Stearney, 1994). Further, it is important to investigate how women’s engagement may simultaneously be a source of personal empowerment (Yuval-Davis, 1994) and a cultural expectation of community maintenance (Little, 1997; Gerstel, 2000)— and that which socio-material realities constitute empowerment and expectation(s) may vary across actor groups. For theoretical and practical reasons, this type of work is needed within examinations of environmental justice projects to acknowledge how the environment may be differentially constructed in communities, how this informs strategies for action, to identify and address cultural norms may impact resource distribution, and to encourage coalition building between groups across communities and scalar levels. The connection of shared experiences of injustice across communities has the potential to shift scale, and demand action. By locating this research within an examination of environmental justice activism, I will add to the growing literature that problematizes the feminization of this movement/framework, ranging from food and sustainable agriculture (Ferguson and DeLind, 1999), to traditional livelihoods (Bell, 2010). 


Committee Chair: Dr. Wynne Wright

Members: Dr. Shari L. Dann, Dr. Lucero Radonic, and Dr. Robert Richardson