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Giovanna Di Chiro: “Embodied Ecologies: Connecting Sustainability and Environmental Justice”

April 26, 2013 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm  |  


Dr. Giovanna Di Chiro’s research bridges academic and community action domains and integrates the fields of environment, sustainability, and social justice. She teaches interdisciplinary courses in environmental studies and women’s & gender studies, and incorporates a community-based, action research emphasis (currently as the Lang Professor for Issues of Social Change at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania). Di Chiro has published widely on the intersections of race, class, gender, and environmental justice with a focus on activism and policy change addressing environmental health disparities in lower income communities. She collaborates with environmental justice and community development organizations to conduct participatory action research on environmental health concerns and on developing culturally relevant “sustainability” initiatives in diverse communities.

Di Chiro is co-editor of the volume Appropriating Technology: Vernacular Science and Social Power and is completing a book titled Embodied Ecologies: Science, Politics, and Environmental Justice. Embodied Ecologies focuses on what she calls “embodied” or “situated” environmental science and community-based environmental justice activism. The central argument interrogates conventional environmental science and policy approaches, which tend to concentrate on global, cosmopolitan, and macro-level frameworks of organized power: states, markets, global institutions, global environmental sciences, and international environmental organizations. That selective attention to the macro scale tends to dismiss or simply disregard community/local/situated practices and approaches to environmental science and policy as overly micro level and parochial (i.e., not relevant or up to the task of addressing the big environmental problems of the moment, like global climate change). Using the conceptual framework of “embodiment” and drawing on the feminist political economic theory of social reproduction (the maintenance and sustainability of bodies/families/communities and everyday life), Embodied Ecologies examines the harm done to (human and non-human) bodies, communities, and local environments, which has been eclipsed by dominant discourses emphasizing the global scale. The book highlights the innovative and diverse eco-cosmo-politics generated by grassroots activists to build sustainable, just, and resilient communities in the face of broad-scale environmental problems like global warming and climate change.

Di Chiro has a background in Biology (B.A. with honors from UCSC), a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in History of Consciousness (Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on Environment, Health, and Development) from UC Santa Cruz, which integrates her interdisciplinary background in biology, environmental studies, and socio-cultural theory. Di Chiro has over 20 years teaching experience, and has taught in Environmental Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies at Deakin University (Australia), University of California (Santa Cruz), Allegheny College, Mount Holyoke College, and Swarthmore College. She has received numerous research fellowships and grants, including from the Rockefeller Foundation, the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the American Association of University Women, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

This colloquium was established to honor the memory and research of Jessica Roy, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student in sociology whose life was abruptly cut short while doing her dissertation fieldwork in Kenya. Her research in rural Africa was designed to illuminate the problem of access to safe water resources and the influence of gender relations on this access. Her approach was interdisciplinary, including environmental, feminist, and sociological perspectives.

Cosponsored by the Urban Studies Research Cluster.


April 26, 2013
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States + Google Map