Black Feminist Ecological Thought: A Manifesto

Thu, 10/01/2020

Chelsea Mikael Frazier, Faculty Fellow in the Department of English, has a powerful new piece, "Black Feminist Ecological Thought: A Manifesto," in Atmos Magazine:

"In mainstream films, books, and political discourse exists the erroneous notion that Black women and their communities do not care about the natural environment, sustainability, or their own health loom large. To add insult to stereotype-informed injury, Black feminist voices have often been seemingly absent from mainstream environmentalism and the intellectual movement that sprang forth from it in the early 1990s. But Black Feminist Ecological Thought has been present and continues to evolve alongside an ecocriticism that often fails to recognize its existence and its intellectual and creative authority.

"Ecocriticism is the study of the relationship between literature, art, and the environment. It is an intellectual movement that began to formally cohere in the early 1990s. Its aims included drawing attention to 1. everything being connected—especially nature and culture, 2. our definitions of humanity being rooted in our cultural norms and languages, and 3. a commitment to the health, well-being, and sustainability of our natural environments. From its inception, the movement announced itself as being universally relevant to and concerned about 'all' people, but suffered from a very obvious lack of racial, ethnic, economic, and gender diversity."

Read the full article here.

Dr. Chelsea Mikael Frazier is a scholar working at the intersection of Black feminist literature and theory and the environmental humanities. Her scholarship, teaching, and public speaking span the fields of Black feminist literature and theory, visual culture, ecocriticism, African art and literature, political theory, science and technology studies, and Afrofuturism. 

She is currently at work on her first book manuscript—an ecocritical study of contemporary Black women artists, writers, and activists. In her analyses, she probes the ways that dominant theoretical and disciplinary frameworks in environmental studies obscure the legibility of what she calls a Black feminist ecoethic as it manifests in Black women’s environmental writing, visual art, and activism across the African diaspora.  

Dr. Frazier’s research has been generously supported by the Northwestern University Presidential Society of Fellows, the Science in Human Culture program at Northwestern, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, the Social Science Research Council, the Alumni Association of Barnard College, the Purdue University Lynn Fellowship, and the Mellon Mays Fellowship program.  Her published work appears in the Journal of Critical Ethnic Studies and in the edited volume Ecologies, Agents, Terrains from Yale University Press.

Photo of Chelsea Mikael Frazier