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Main : ecology, feminism, India, Spinifex Feminist Classic

ISBN: 9781876756161
215 x 137 mm
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Staying Alive
Vandana Shiva


A new release of Vandana Shiva’s classic with a new introduction. Shiva links the violation of nature with the violation and marginalisation of women in the Third World by examining the position of women in relation to nature – the forests, the food chain and water supplies. She shows how science, technology and politics, along with the workings of the economy itself, are inherently exploitative. Every area of human activity marginalises and burdens both women and nature.

Shiva suggests that there is only one path to survival and liberation for nature, women and men: the ecological path of harmony, sustainability and diversity. She explores the unique place of women in the environment of India in particular, both as its saviours and as victims of maldevelopment.

Her analysis is an innovative statement of the challenge that women in ecology movements are creating and she shows how their efforts constitute a non-violent and humanly inclusive alternative to the dominant paradigm of contemporary scientific and development thought.

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Laced with references to Hindu deities, hard-nosed research into Indian land use and bold attacks on Western science ... Staying Alive has the go of a big personality behind it.


Shiva’s powerful narratives allow us to hold a piece of food in our hands ... lets us trace backwards the story of the land it was grown on, the cultural and economic toll on the ecosystem and people, the sacrifice endured so that it might be made, the full weight of environmental devastation present in its existence.

Dalia Sapon-Shevin, www.greens.org

Cogently written, empirically sensitive, and marked by passion and conviction.

Rajni Kothari

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Gendered Politics of Food and the Challenge of Staying Alive

1 Development, Ecology and Women 1

Development as a new project of western patriarchy 1

Maldevelopment as the death of the feminine principle 5

Two kinds of growth, two kinds of productivity 6

Two kinds of poverty 10


2 Science, Nature and Gender 14

Modern science as patriarchy’s project 15

The violence of reductionism 21

Profits, reductionism and violence 23

Two kinds of facts 26

Two kinds of rationality 29

Modern science and ecological crises 31

The natural-unnatural divide 34


3 Women in Nature 38

Nature as the feminine principle 38

Nature and women as producers of life 42

Gender ideology vs. the recovery of the feminine principle 48


4 Women in the Forest 55

Aranyani: the forest as the feminine principle 55

Colonialism and the evolution of masculinist forestry 61

The women of Chipko 67

Afforestation projects and reductionism 77

The approaching tragedy of the commons 83

The colonial heritage: commons as ‘wasteland’ 85

Mannu Rakshana Loota: saving the soil, protecting the commons 86

Breeding ‘super-trees’: the ultimate reductionism 89

Recovering diversity, recovering the commons 93


5 Women in the Food Chain 96

Green revolution: a western paradigm 96

The displacement of women from food production 99

Miracle seeds: breeding out the feminine principle 120

The myth of the miracle seeds 122

The myth of high yields and food self-sufficiency 128

From the green revolution to biotechnology 135

The death of soils 140

Soil-building strategies of traditional agriculture 140

Green revolution: a recipe for desertification 143

Diseases of micro-nutrient deficiency and toxicity 145

Waterlogged and saline deserts 146

Groundwater mining and the creation of dry deserts 151

Respecting the rights of the soil 151

Pesticides: poisoning the web of life 153

The farce of ‘improved’ varieties 154

Fostering pests with pesticides 156

Non-violent pest control: learning from nature, women and peasants 159

The violence of the white revolution 165

Hybridisation as genetic violence 169

Fragmentation of nature: integration of markets 173


6 Women and the Vanishing Waters 179

The disappearing source 179

Dams as violence to the river 184

Drilling deep and draining dry: the groundwater famine 195

Women: the water experts 207


7 Terra Mater: Reclaiming the Feminine Principle 219

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