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At peace with earth - connecting ecological destruction and patriarchal civilisation

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Elin Wägner, feminist, author, journalist, teacher and ecologist, published her book Alarm Clock in 1941. Alarm Clock connects the destruction of earth with the subjugation of women in a systematic analysis of Western civilisation. In Alarm Clock Wägner re-evaluates the question of women's history and matriarchy in order to build a platform from which to re-launch political activism. Wägner argues that the exploitation of nature is connected to the oppression of women and that this in turn affects women's ability, or desire, to become full political citizens. Early ecofeminist ideas can be traced back to the women's movement at the turn to the twentieth century and its debates on a women's natural place outside a destructive civilisation. The article takes its starting point in Elin Wägner's ecological writings. Her work is analysed both in relation to the turn of the century tradition and to contemporary ecofeminist theory, making the feminist-political potential of ecological writing explicit. The introduction of ecology as a feminist issue has, in the case of Elin Wägner, only been seen as an expression of 'essentialist' thinking. The article argues that such a label both misinterprets and misrepresents the complexity of Wägner's thinking.
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Keywords: Elin Wägner; critique of civilisation; ecofeminism; matriarchy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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