Women in Appropriate Technology: Feminisms, Technologies, Ecologies
What was the relationship, women asked themselves in the 1970s, between feminism, technology, and ecology? This book will ask similar questions by looking at women’s involvement in the Appropriate Technology (AT) movement, the roots of their activism, and the routes they crafted beyond AT organizations. A diffuse, global grassroots movement, AT participants attempted to develop small-scale, ecologically benign, and participatory technologies. In doing do, their work stands as a point of emergence for sustainable development and ecological design. While women were essential to AT, historians have largely narrated the movement through men’s activism. Women came to AT with a variety of political and social goals, and forged various activist identities in the process. In AT, they participated in expanding women’s political power through technoscientific critique, gained professional skills, entered international development work, and continued into other forms of feminism and environmental activism. Using archival sources and extensive oral history interviews, this work will tell the story of women’s activist lives often left untold as they do not fit easily into historical categories. It also narrates the ways race and gender underlie ideas of earth that we live with today.
“The Gain in Human Community”: Ursula Franklin’s Technoscientific Activism
Ursula Franklin was a Canadian physicist, pacifist, and feminist. This article focuses on distinct moments in Franklin’s technoscientific activism, including her radiation research for the Voice of Women, her work on the Science Council of Canada’s Conserver Society Committee, and her formulation of the politics of technology and feminism The Real World of Technology, the book that made her a public figure.
My dissertation focuses on 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.
“‘Food-Space-Energy Problems’: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the New Alchemy Institute, and the Emergence of Ecological Design in the 1970s.” Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports (June 3, 2021): 1-15.
Review of Hidden Places: Maine Writers on Coastal Villages, Mill Towns, and the North Country, by Joseph Conforti. Maine History 54, no. 1 (2021): 72-73.
“Thrifty Housewives and Wicked Wastrels: The Gendered Dimensions of Conservation,” NiCHE, April 13, 2021.
“Writing Home into Environmental History,” Environmental History Now, December 31, 2020.
“Ecological Homes: Making Women, Men, and Nature,” EdgeEffects, October 5, 2017.
I wrote a history of Eagle Heights Community Garden for my MS in Geography from University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Dead Zones, Weed Nests, and Manure Mishaps: How Gardeners Cultivate Collective Place in Eagle Heights Community Gardens” explores changing governance structures in relation to non-human nature.