Making Earth, Making Home: Technoscientific Citizenship and Ecological Domesticity in an Age of Limits
Date of Award
Level of Access Assigned by Author
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Anne Kelly Knowles
Additional Committee Members
In the post-WWII era, concerns over Earth’s finite resources and technology’s destructive capacity shaped ideas of a global environment. This dissertation focuses on transnational grassroots social movements that attempted to find solutions to earthly vulnerability. It looks at women’s nuclear disarmament campaigns in the early 1960s, the Appropriate Technology movement of the 1970s, Canada’s conserver society program, and the emergence of feminist technoscientific critique and ecological activism in the early 1980s. In each case study, it shows how the ability to critique and produce technoscientific knowledge expanded women’s political identities, what I call technoscientific citizenship. Simultaneously, these groups promoted ecological domesticity, or the construction of white, middle-class, heteronormative domesticity as the correct way to care for a threatened earth. The tension between technoscientific citizenship and the privatization of care as represented in ecological domesticity forms the core of this work.
The dissertation begins with a study of the Voice of Women’s anti-radiation activism, arguing that these women produced technoscientific knowledge for political ends. It then turns to the Appropriate Technology movement, which advocated for small-scale, ecologically-benign, participatory technologies. Women in AT claimed technoscientific acumen and formed activist communities to support their political work. At the same time, AT promoted its work through gendered images that reified white, heteronormative, middle-class domesticity. This construction of home facilitated the spread of ecological living into mainstream culture and assured people that inviting nature into homes would not overturn existing gendered social hierarchies. Black feminists, however, critiqued this construction of domestic care. Finally, it turns to feminist technoscientific critiques of AT and the emergence of ecofeminism, ending with a discussion of the Women and Life on Earth Conference. By linking the construction of specific kinds of homes to women’s expanding political power, this dissertation complicates conventional narratives of both feminism and environmentalism. Throughout, it blurs the boundaries between earth and home, feminism and environmentalism, ecology and technology. It asks how women’s political power can expand at the same time as it is limited by the continuation of specific domestic ideologies.
Schroeder, Emma, "Making Earth, Making Home: Technoscientific Citizenship and Ecological Domesticity in an Age of Limits" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3360.