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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Gender and Environmental History: From Representation of Women and Nature to Gender Analysis of Ecology and Politics

Melissa Leach and Cathy Green

Environment and History 3(1997): 343-370

While gender-blindness has characterised much writing on colonial environmental history, women have assumed centre-stage in the historical narratives produced by two linked contemporary policy discourses: ecofeminism, and 'women, environment and development'. Yet the latter's representations are highly problematic, both in simplifying and obscuring important relationships and processes, and in supporting potentially regressive policy agendas. The paper outlines an alternative approach to environmental history grounded in gender analysis. Drawing on well-documented case studies from Africa and India, it shows how a gender approach reveals linkages between ecological processes and relations of labour, property and power critical to understanding environmental change and assessing policy options.

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