Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural
by Noël Sturgeon
University of Arizona Press, 2009
Paper: 978-0-8165-2581-2
Library of Congress Classification GE195.S786 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 304.2

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
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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