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Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural

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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 o 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.


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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 o 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.

30 review for Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural

  1. 5 out of 5

    sdw

    I have been waiting for this book to come out. This book examine the production of the category of "natural" in representations of national and global environmentalism in popular culture. The examples Sturgeon discusses range from White Fang 2 to Dances With Wolves and from Captain Planet to March of the Penguins. I particularly appreciate Sturgeon's choice to focus on representations of environmentalism rather than simply representations of environment. This book is written from an unapologetic I have been waiting for this book to come out. This book examine the production of the category of "natural" in representations of national and global environmentalism in popular culture. The examples Sturgeon discusses range from White Fang 2 to Dances With Wolves and from Captain Planet to March of the Penguins. I particularly appreciate Sturgeon's choice to focus on representations of environmentalism rather than simply representations of environment. This book is written from an unapologetic feminist stance concerned with global inequalities, militarism, as well as the construction of race, gender, and sexuality. The field needed this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is a succinct volume that is written in an approachable manner. Parts of the book, particularly the "Naturalizing Frontiers" section, seem to be retreading well-worn territory, though Sturgeon's approach does add some gender nuances and a level of readability that is advantageous for non-specialists. I enjoyed her personal teaching anecdotes. They helped to situate these ideas within the thoughts of the mainstream populace. I also appreciated the way in which she clearly connected reproduct This is a succinct volume that is written in an approachable manner. Parts of the book, particularly the "Naturalizing Frontiers" section, seem to be retreading well-worn territory, though Sturgeon's approach does add some gender nuances and a level of readability that is advantageous for non-specialists. I enjoyed her personal teaching anecdotes. They helped to situate these ideas within the thoughts of the mainstream populace. I also appreciated the way in which she clearly connected reproduction to environmental concerns. Quick read and well-worth it for a readable overview sprinkled with Sturgeon's personal touches.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ernesto Aguilar

    Environmentalism in Popular Culture is a necessary challenge of ideas many of us may look upon with positive energy, but which require be pushed further. Equally, Sturgeon scripts a thought-provoking thesis on how ideas of personal responsibility and individualism have eclipsed ideas of corporate responsibility and social accountability, mainly through persistent messaging presupposing the righteousness of the unregulated free market and the inherent danger of anything approaching the commons as Environmentalism in Popular Culture is a necessary challenge of ideas many of us may look upon with positive energy, but which require be pushed further. Equally, Sturgeon scripts a thought-provoking thesis on how ideas of personal responsibility and individualism have eclipsed ideas of corporate responsibility and social accountability, mainly through persistent messaging presupposing the righteousness of the unregulated free market and the inherent danger of anything approaching the commons as a Communist fantasy. This volume offers up an appraisal of green business that should be fundamental to anyone's understanding of such evolutions in capital. Benevolence comes with it many hooks, and Environmentalism in Popular Culture unabashedly calls out the cynicism in which some of the noted benevolence is rooted. Sturgeon is furthermore clear in how North American chauvinism colors green business' interactions with the Third World, presupposing at once mysticism and helplessness, while failing to offer a lens to Western dominance for such happenings. The result of these ideologies coming to roost is soft capital, in the form of green business, partners with the hardline factions of globalization to present suffering as the natural order of life. Individuals, as the logic goes, are alone responsible for their own lot, not the governments and corporations which engineered societies to their own benefit. Enter theories that are but a hair more sophisticated than eugenics and one is left with the lucky, the cunning and the strong flourishing in a world where regulation is scorned as a roadblock to money rather than a guard for the public interest. What's more, a focus on individuals simply recycling, buying green and purchasing hybrid cars eludes what Sturgeon calls "social justice in a global context."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    An excellent examination of secondary consequences/implications of the imagery and storylines used in environmental marketing and storytelling. Recommended reading for anyone crafting narratives involving environmental themes. Thought-provoking.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Strawser

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karin

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bwickre

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    Katelin Johnson

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    Alyssa

  10. 4 out of 5

    Golnoush

  11. 5 out of 5

    Avery

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    Tara

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carol Cisne

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  15. 4 out of 5

    Khat

  16. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abbey Cadden

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rae

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha PineappleFox

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Annie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brent Resh

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Anne

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cookie King

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Archibald

  26. 4 out of 5

    Davey

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Zera

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Woodward

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

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