Areil Salleh

Griffith University

Ariel Salleh is an Australian sociologist who writes on social ecology and ecofeminism. In contrast to idealist ecofeminisms coming from philosophy and cultural studies, Salleh’s analysis is close to that of fellow sociologists Maria Mies in Germany and Mary Mellor in the United Kingdom. Reproductive labour and use value are central themes here. Her own “embodied materialism” addresses resistance to globalisation through the movement of movements, introducing the term “meta-industrial labour” to integrate indigenous, peasant, women’s, and worker politics under the banner of ecology. Her book Ecofeminism as Politics: nature, Marx and the postmodern outlines the scope of a materialist ecofeminism, proposing a transdisciplinary analysis of the embodied roots of capitalist patriarchal globalisation. Salleh traces the effects of what she sees as the “originary contradiction”: economic resourcing of labour (women’s bodies in the first instance) “as nature” and the eurocentric ideology of “humanity v nature” used to justify that systemic exploitation. Salleh exemplifies the marxist argument that hands-on praxis is essential to grounded political theory. She was a convener of the Movement Against Uranium Mining in Sydney, 1976, and helped found The Greens in 1985. She worked on the 1992 Earth Summit with Women’s Environment & Development Organization; on local catchment struggles in the mid 90s; and from 2001-04 acted as ecologist/critic on the Australian federal government’s Gene Technology Ethics Committee. As a co-editor of the international journal Capitalism Nature Socialism, Ariel Salleh works at en/gendering dialogue between advocates of ecofeminist and eco-socialist politics. Her writing has addressed this terrain since the early 1980s and she was an original signatory to the 2001 ‘Eco-socialist Manifesto’. Her critical studies of green thought, environmental ethics, and ecopolitics, run to some 100 articles and chapters. She lectures on ecofeminism internationally.

  • Ecofeminism as Politics

    Nature, Marx and the Postmodern

    By Areil Salleh     December 2001

    This book explores the philosophical and political challenge of ecofeminism. It shows how the ecology movement has been held back by conceptual confusion over the implications of gender difference, while much that passes in the name of feminism is actually an obstacle to ecological change and global democracy. The author argues that ecofeminism reaches beyond contemporary social movements, being a political synthesis of four revolutions in one: ecology is feminism is socialism is post-colonial struggle. Salleh’s ecofeminism integrates discourses on science, the body, culture, nature, political economy.