In this thoughtful and highly readable book, Noël Sturgeon illustrates the myriad and insidious ways in which American popular culture depicts social inequities as "natural" and how our images of
"nature" interfere with creating solutions to environmental problems that are just and fair for all. Why is it, she wonders, that environmentalist messages in popular culture so often "naturalize"
themes of heroic male violence, suburban nuclear family structures, and U.S. dominance in the world? And what do these patterns of thought mean for how we envision environmental solutions, like
"green" businesses, recycling programs, and the protection of threatened species?
Sturgeon's book creates the field of 'environmental cultural studies' through her intersectional analysis, which merges the perspectives of environmental justice, ecofeminism, and environmentalism.
—Greta Gaard, author of The Nature of Home: Taking Root in a Place
If environmentalists—and by this I mean all of us who live on the planet and rely upon nature for our very survival—can take these criticisms to heart and try to imagine a more sustainable social and ecological future, then this book's seemingly grim assessments will have paid off.
—Scott Slovic, author of Going Away to Think: Engagement, Retreat, and Ecocritical Responsibility
Although there are other books that examine questions of culture and environment, this is the first book to
employ a global feminist environmental justice analysis to focus on how racial inequality, gendered patterns of work, and heteronormative ideas about the family relate to environmental questions.
Beginning in the late 1980s and moving to the present day, Sturgeon unpacks a variety of cultural tropes, including ideas about Mother Nature, the purity of the natural, and the allegedly close
relationships of indigenous people with the natural world. She investigates the persistence of the "myth of the frontier" and its extension to the frontier of space exploration. She ponders the
popularity (and occasional controversy) of penguins (and penguin family values) and questions assumptions about human warfare as "natural."
The book is intended to provoke debates—among
college students and graduate students, among their professors, among environmental activists, and among all citizens who are concerned with issues of environmental quality and social equality.