Tag Archives: environment

Women, Landscape, Environment – and Pests

TS writes: Just off to the 17th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders and Sexualities (@BerksConference) at Hofstra University, New York. The conference explicitly brings together history and feminist activism, and I am glad to see on the programme sessions that address women’s engagement with the environment.

Beyond Ecofeminism’ will explore ‘how women negotiate the relationship between space and identity through environmental justice organizing’, focusing on contemporary activism. ‘Invisible Death’ will use performance to draw attention to the biological destruction inherent in everyday pest control practices, and how women are implicated in these. Lindsay Garcia asks ‘Can we create a future that eliminates or minimizes animal death, creates healthy relationships and boundaries between pests and humans without reifying the oppressions of those who have been forced to live with pests due to circumstances out of their control?’

Both of these sessions are very present-centred, of course, and I will be asking whether their questions could be addressed through taking on board a longer chronological frame, bringing the knowledge of a ‘distant past’ to bear on present issues. This approach has been championed by Judith Bennett, whose own History Matters called for precisely this engagement between the medieval and the modern (although the environment did not feature greatly in that otherwise great book). Pests in the house and field, like weeds in the garden, are really only creatures ‘out of place’ – can pre-modern knowledge help us to cut down on chemical solutions in favour of working with nature? Watch this space….

‘Medieval’ gardens 1: Paray le Monial

TT writes: Just visited a ‘medieval-inspired’ cloister garden at Paray le Monial (Burgundy) which was planted with a few medicinal plants. They had been planted around the edge of the cloister walk and were suffering badly from the shaded conditions as were the roses.  The grass areas within the sunny spots enclosed by box hedges would have been a much better location for them as most of them were of Mediterranean temperament, plus had they been in the middle of the cloister they would not have been attacked by mildew.

Link to Paray le Monial (French site)