Wednesday, September 16, 2020

"Call Your "Mutha'""

New from Oxford University Press: Call Your "Mutha'": A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto for the Earth Mother in the Anthropocene by Jane Caputi.

About the book, from the publisher:

The ecocide and domination of nature that is the Anthropocene does not represent the actions of all humans, but that of Man, the Western and masculine identified corporate, military, intellectual, and political class that long has masked itself as the civilized and the human. In this book, Jane Caputi looks at two major "myths" of the Earth, one ancient and one contemporary, and uses them to devise a manifesto for the survival of nature--which includes human beings--in our current ecological crisis. These are the myths of Mother Earth and the Anthropocene. The former personifies nature as a figure with the power to give life or death, and one who shares a communal destiny with all other living things. The latter myth sees humans as exceptional for exerting an implicitly sexual domination of Mother Earth through technological achievement, from the plow to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. Much that we take for granted as inferior or taboo is based in a splitting apart of inherent unities: culture-nature; up-down, male-female; spirit-matter; mind-body; life-death; sacred-profane; reason-madness; human-beast; light-dark. The first is valued and the second reviled. This provides the framework for any number of related injustices--sexual, racial, and ecological.

This book resists this pattern, in part, by deliberately putting the dirty back into the mind, the obscene back into the sacred, and vice versa. Ecofeminism and Environmental Justice argue for the significance and reality of the Earth Mother. Caputi engages specifically with the powers of that Mother, ones made taboo and even obscene throughout heteropatriarchal traditions. Jane Caputi rejects misogynist and colonialist stereotypes, and examines the potency of the Earth Mother in order to deepen awareness of how our relationship to the Earth went astray and what might be done to address this. Drawing upon Indigenous and African American, ecofeminism, ecowomanism, green activism, femme, queer and gender non-binary philosophies, literature and arts, Afrofuturism, and popular culture images, Call Your "Mutha" contends that the Anthropocene is not evidence so much of Man's supremacy, but instead a sign that Mother Nature-Earth, faced with disrespect, is turning away, withdrawing the support systems necessary for life and continuance. Caputi looks at contemporary narratives and artwork to consider the ways in which respect for the autonomous and potent Earth Mother and a call for their return has already reasserted itself into our political and popular culture.
--Marshal Zeringue