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Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development

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Vandana Shiva is one of the world's most prominent radical scientists. In Staying Alive she defines the links between ecological crises, colonialism, and the oppression of women. It is a scholarly and polemical plea for the rediscovery of the ‘feminine principle’ in human interaction with the natural world, not as a gender-based quality, rather an organizing principle, a w Vandana Shiva is one of the world's most prominent radical scientists. In Staying Alive she defines the links between ecological crises, colonialism, and the oppression of women. It is a scholarly and polemical plea for the rediscovery of the ‘feminine principle’ in human interaction with the natural world, not as a gender-based quality, rather an organizing principle, a way of seeing the world.” —the Guardian In this pioneering work, Vandana Shiva looks at the history of development and progress, stripping away the neutral language of science to reveal third-world development policy as the global twin of the industrial revolution. As Shiva makes clear, the way this development paradigm is being implemented—through violence against nature and women—threatens survival itself. She focuses on how rural Indian women experience and perceive the causes and effects of ecological destruction, and how they conceive of and initiate processes to stop the destruction and begin regeneration. As the world continues to follow destructive paths of development, Shiva’s Staying Alive is a fiercely relevant book that positions women not solely as survivors of the crisis, but as the source of crucial insights and visions to guide our struggle. Vandana Shiva is the author of many books, including Staying Alive, Earth Democracy, and Soil Not Oil. She is a leader in the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) and the Slow Food movement.


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Vandana Shiva is one of the world's most prominent radical scientists. In Staying Alive she defines the links between ecological crises, colonialism, and the oppression of women. It is a scholarly and polemical plea for the rediscovery of the ‘feminine principle’ in human interaction with the natural world, not as a gender-based quality, rather an organizing principle, a w Vandana Shiva is one of the world's most prominent radical scientists. In Staying Alive she defines the links between ecological crises, colonialism, and the oppression of women. It is a scholarly and polemical plea for the rediscovery of the ‘feminine principle’ in human interaction with the natural world, not as a gender-based quality, rather an organizing principle, a way of seeing the world.” —the Guardian In this pioneering work, Vandana Shiva looks at the history of development and progress, stripping away the neutral language of science to reveal third-world development policy as the global twin of the industrial revolution. As Shiva makes clear, the way this development paradigm is being implemented—through violence against nature and women—threatens survival itself. She focuses on how rural Indian women experience and perceive the causes and effects of ecological destruction, and how they conceive of and initiate processes to stop the destruction and begin regeneration. As the world continues to follow destructive paths of development, Shiva’s Staying Alive is a fiercely relevant book that positions women not solely as survivors of the crisis, but as the source of crucial insights and visions to guide our struggle. Vandana Shiva is the author of many books, including Staying Alive, Earth Democracy, and Soil Not Oil. She is a leader in the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) and the Slow Food movement.

30 review for Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development

  1. 5 out of 5

    missy jean

    “To say that women and nature are intimately associated is not to say anything revolutionary. After all, it was precisely just such an assumption that allowed the domination of both women and nature. The new insight provided by rural women in the Third World is that women and nature are associated not in passivity but in creativity and in the maintenance of life… Most work on women and environment in the Third World has focused on women as special victims of environmental degradation. Yet the wo “To say that women and nature are intimately associated is not to say anything revolutionary. After all, it was precisely just such an assumption that allowed the domination of both women and nature. The new insight provided by rural women in the Third World is that women and nature are associated not in passivity but in creativity and in the maintenance of life… Most work on women and environment in the Third World has focused on women as special victims of environmental degradation. Yet the women who participate in and lead ecology movements in countries like India are not speaking merely as victims. Their voices are the voices of liberation and transformation which provide new categories of thought and new exploratory directions. In this sense, this study is a post-victimology study. It is an articulation of the categories of challenge that women in ecology movements are creating in the Third World.” (47)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Magdelanye

    Agriculture based on diversity, decentralization, and improving small farm productivity through ecological methods is a woman-centered, nature friendly agriculture...knowledge is shared....Other species and plants are kin, not property. pxiv The violence intrinsic to the destruction of diversity through monocultures, and the destruction of the freedom to save and exchange seeds through IPR monopolies, is inconsistent with womens diverse, non-violent ways of knowing nature and providing food secur Agriculture based on diversity, decentralization, and improving small farm productivity through ecological methods is a woman-centered, nature friendly agriculture...knowledge is shared....Other species and plants are kin, not property. pxiv The violence intrinsic to the destruction of diversity through monocultures, and the destruction of the freedom to save and exchange seeds through IPR monopolies, is inconsistent with womens diverse, non-violent ways of knowing nature and providing food security. pxv Over the past decade, through new property rights and new technologies, corporations have hijaked the diversity of life on earth and peoples indigenous innovation. pxix The globalized industrial food system is creating hunger....farmers are being pushed into growing cash crops for export. pxxiiv The act of living and of celebrating and conserving life in all its diversity- in people and in nature seems to have been sacrificed to progress, and the sanctity of life has been substituted by the sanctity of science and development. pxxix With the destruction of forests, water and land, we are losing our life support systems. This destruction is taking place in the name of development and progress, but there must be something seriously wrong with a concept of progress that threatens survival...pxxxi And these quotes are just from the introduction to a new 2010 edition of this 1988 classic. If you at all doubt any of these statements, and/or if you need statistics to convince you of their truth and gravity, read this book. It is full of tables of reference, and VS is thorough and very knowledgeable and convincing. If you already realize the relevance of her arguments,by all means, find something to do about it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Milda Longgeita Pinem

    This book talks about the struggling of Indian Women to make the contra mainstream of developmentalism which endangered the ecology in india. Chipko's women are the model for this struggling. They used their local wisdom to maintain the nature. Shiva started from the concept of developmentalism which came from Truman's statement about the prosperity of the first world spreaded to the third world. Shiva saw the negative impacts of the western hegemony especially in ideal concept of development fo This book talks about the struggling of Indian Women to make the contra mainstream of developmentalism which endangered the ecology in india. Chipko's women are the model for this struggling. They used their local wisdom to maintain the nature. Shiva started from the concept of developmentalism which came from Truman's statement about the prosperity of the first world spreaded to the third world. Shiva saw the negative impacts of the western hegemony especially in ideal concept of development for eastern. One of the worst impacts was the degeneration of the nature.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kab

    First off, Shiva cannot seem to write without clobbering repetition. The heart of her ideas and activism, however, are galvanising and foundational. She has transformed the way I think about food justice and agroecology. She questions the sanctity of science and development and [reveals] that these are not universal categories of progress, but…projects of modern western patriarchy. Food and water as life itself have been distorted into modes of generating profit—literally at the cost of life its First off, Shiva cannot seem to write without clobbering repetition. The heart of her ideas and activism, however, are galvanising and foundational. She has transformed the way I think about food justice and agroecology. She questions the sanctity of science and development and [reveals] that these are not universal categories of progress, but…projects of modern western patriarchy. Food and water as life itself have been distorted into modes of generating profit—literally at the cost of life itself in soil degradation, waterlogging, salinity, and desertification. Agriculture based on diversity, decentralization, and improving small farm productivity through ecological methods is a women-centered, nature-friendly agriculture. In this agriculture, knowledge is shared—other species and plants are kin, not “property”—and sustainability is based on the renewal of the earth’s fertility and the renewal and regeneration of biodiversity and species richness on farms. The scientific revolution in Europe transformed nature from terra mater into a machine and a source of raw material; with this transformation it removed all ethical and cognitive constraints against its violation and exploitation. [The technocratic] mind proposes an extension of the disease as the cure—its solution to desertification is more dams, more tubewells, more water intensive cultivation on the one hand, and more technology intensive solutions to the drinking water crisis on the other. Reductionist economics assumes that only paid labour produces value. On the one hand this leads to ignoring [humanity’s dependence] on the natural world, while on the other, it provides the ideology of the gender division of labour such that women’s work in producing sustenance is treated as having no economic value even while it provides the very basis of survival and well-being…[If] production of life cannot be reckoned with in money terms, then it is economic models, and not women’s work in producing sustenance and life, that must be sacrificed. At a time when a quarter of the world’s population is threatened by starvation due to erosion of soil, water, and genetic diversity of living resources, chasing the mirage of unending growth, by spreading resource destructive technologies, becomes a major source of genocide. The killing of people by the murder of nature is an invisible form of violence which is today the biggest threat to justice and peace. Note: I have read three books by Vandana Shiva so far and I find Who Really Feeds the World?: The Failures of Agribusiness and the Promise of Agroecology the most accessible.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy Layton

    There’s a story out there where a woman works hard to sweep and keep her house clean.  And then a vacuum cleaner factory stations itself in the town, and all the women buy a vacuum cleaner--after all, they're so much more effective!  Yet the factory causes so much smoke and dust to settle on the floor that it takes twice as much effort for the woman to keep her floors clean. That's what's been happening in India for nearly the past century.  More and more dams are being built, businesses are reli There’s a story out there where a woman works hard to sweep and keep her house clean.  And then a vacuum cleaner factory stations itself in the town, and all the women buy a vacuum cleaner--after all, they're so much more effective!  Yet the factory causes so much smoke and dust to settle on the floor that it takes twice as much effort for the woman to keep her floors clean. That's what's been happening in India for nearly the past century.  More and more dams are being built, businesses are reliant upon the forests, and in "creating" opportunities for work and capitalism, they displace entire villages, separating families from the life sources that are water and foliage.  And, of course, this isn't to mention the fact that the climate is changing and that much has changed in the past 30 years.  Women have physically put their bodies on the line while men have allowed themselves to be corrupt, gaining extra food and money while existing in a society that doesn't need extra food or mainstream money.  Women are the ones doing most of the hard labor on farms and crops, and are the ones doing most of the labor indoors.  And yet they are the ones being affected the most--health problems are on the rise for both them and their children (both in and out of utero).   But where are the men?  Hopeful that development will lead to progress--though Shiva's book argues that progress isn't linear, and that developmental progress is not progressive for those who are most affected by it.   Staying Alive is a hugely informative book written by one of the most well-known land justice advocates out there.  If you're searching for a place to begin on this topic, this would be it.  Though this isn't exactly an easy read, it's a hugely important one that I urge all of my peers to read. Review cross-listed here!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This is a great book. I've been thinking about the forest and science and sustainable life. I want to study the science she calls the "ecological or feminine principal" and avoid reductionist science that forgets everything is connected. Some sections I highlighted while reading: "The recovery of the feminine principle allows a transcendance and transformation of these patriarchal foundations of maldevelopment. It allows a redefinition of growth and productivity as categories linked to the produc This is a great book. I've been thinking about the forest and science and sustainable life. I want to study the science she calls the "ecological or feminine principal" and avoid reductionist science that forgets everything is connected. Some sections I highlighted while reading: "The recovery of the feminine principle allows a transcendance and transformation of these patriarchal foundations of maldevelopment. It allows a redefinition of growth and productivity as categories linked to the production, not the destruction, of life. It is thus simultaneously an ecological and a feminist political project which legitimises the way of knowing and being that create wealth by enhancing life and diversity, and which deligitimises the knowledge and practise of a culture of death as the basis for capital accumulation."(13) "If we are not willing to try and see the favoured intellectual structures and practises of science as cultural artifacts rather than as sacred commandments handed down to humanity at the birth of modern science, then it will be hard to understand how gender symbolism, the gendered social structure of science, and the masculine identities and behaviours of individual scientists have left their marks on the problematics, concepts, theories, interpretation, ethics, meanings and goals of science."(37) "The experience of these powerful women also needs to be shared to remind us we are not alone, and that we do not take the first steps: others have walked before us." (67) "The healing and recovery of soils will not emerge by continuing to cling to the market as an organising principle for agriculture. Recover lies in rediscovering natural ways of renewal and learning, once again, to see that the soil has a right to a share of her produce in order to renew herself. Respecting that right is critical to satisfying our needs." (152)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian Griffith

    This book marked Vandana Shiva as a force of nature for the defence of village India’s environmental survival. She combines expertise in agro-science, ecology, and the amazing complexity of local Indian farming traditions, which have been so sustainable over centuries that they earn the name of “permaculture.” She powerfully defends the wisdom of village farmers against the forces for industrialized maximized-extraction agriculture, that would destroy environment beneath the villagers’ feet. In This book marked Vandana Shiva as a force of nature for the defence of village India’s environmental survival. She combines expertise in agro-science, ecology, and the amazing complexity of local Indian farming traditions, which have been so sustainable over centuries that they earn the name of “permaculture.” She powerfully defends the wisdom of village farmers against the forces for industrialized maximized-extraction agriculture, that would destroy environment beneath the villagers’ feet. In an age of rising alarm over environmental degradation, Shiva presents a blizzard of evidence to challenge our prevailing logic of “development” at its roots. She points out the warning signs that environmentally sustainable living could be eliminated just when it is needed most. At the 1992 UN Conference on the Environment in Rio de Janeiro, heavily industrialized nations argued that the laws of supply and demand will naturally balance the requirements of resource generation and extraction. Just as the global public grew convinced that exploitation of the environment must be somehow controlled, the very idea of social control over resources was virtually demolished. In India, Anil Agarwal protested that “As the growing stock of biomass goes down, the demand for biomass from the cash economy goes up ...” When demand begins to exceed supply, “pressure to exploit the remaining biomass increases dramatically.” In such a market, every villager knows that the quickest way to get rich is take several truckloads of wood from a forest and sell them in a city. In the Garhwal Himalaya in the 1970s, many local farmers tried to modernize by growing cash crops. In most cases they switched from their traditional rotations of grains, to planting vegetables for the regional markets. This increased their monetary income, but also caused several side-effects. First, the old grain crops had produced a by-product of straw, and the village cows or goats got much of their food from that source. But the new vegetable crops produced no straw, and the animals had to eat something else. Naturally they ate more of the grass on the surrounding hills. The straw from crops had also been a source of fuel for cooking. With that gone, the villagers too had to find their fuel on the hillsides. The entire environmental culture began to unravel. With insufficient fodder, many of the animals had to be sold. This cut the supply of manure for the fields, which had been the main source of fertilizer. With grass stripped from the hill slopes, gullies snaked up the hillsides, sucking away the fields. The villagers were eyewitnesses, not economists. In letting the market dictate what they would produce, they had abandoned their sensitivity to what that particular environment could produce. The famous Chipko movement grew in this region, not only as a movement to halt the clear-cutting of trees, but also to change destructive farming in the hills. If the market always seemed to dictate the same acceleration of resource consumption, and neither big government nor big business could control this, perhaps only the local farmers could. Somehow, an economy was needed with biomass itself as the real measure of wealth. The lowly villagers, who were previously seen as tax mules or the ignorant objects of development efforts, began forming their own responses. They articulated the ecological implications of their religious beliefs. Starting in the 1970s, hundreds of local “anti-development movements,” such as Chipko, the Kerala Sastra Parishad or the Mitti Bachao Abhiyan, formed and spread. Shiva argues that the traditional gardeners in many regions of India remain unconverted to plantation-style, industrialized agriculture. Especially the women in these areas continue their old ways of mixed gardening, animal husbandry and forestry, which can actually build the soil. Until the 1980s, outsiders almost invariably saw these traditional peasants as the greatest victims of backwardness. In development planning, these primitives were often displaced in favor of more profitable schemes. But Shiva claims, “It is from these remaining pockets of natural farming that the ecological struggles to protect nature are emerging.” This argument might seem based on romanticism about the past. And everyone who knows rural India knows its past was hardly paradise. But growing numbers of Indian farmers have confirmed Shiva’s view, returning to a more traditional gardening, after trying the industrialized “green revolution” approach. The green revolution hybrids are gene-selected for maximum development of the seed-head. This growth comes partly at the expense of the leaves and stalks. Many kinds of “miracle rice” are therefore “dwarf” varieties, with smaller bodies and bigger heads. The underdeveloped stems sometimes fail to support the larger heads, so that these plants are more easily blown down in the fields. The hybrids are also more fragile in other ways, requiring more water and fertilizer than traditional breeds. They need more protection from local insects and plant diseases. Still, if the goal is to maximize production of grain for the mass market, the project makes sense. It is a case of increased risk for increased gain. Probably a vast majority of Indian farmers tried growing the new miracle crops. In doing so they entered a mass market for standardized products, where efficiency in cost and scale of production were the main bases for any competitive advantage. Traditional Indian crops like ragi, jowar, or mandua were shunted aside, despite their proven durability under local conditions. Even the nutritional value of the old crops was usually superior to hybrid grain, but now their lower yield per hectare made them non-competitive. Shiva reviews the case of HYV sorghum in south India—a typical head-heavy, leaf and stalk-poor hybrid, introduced to replace the local jowar. In Kurugund village, Dharwar District of Karnataka, use of this HYV took off as the wave of the future, going from 99.06 acres in 1970–71, to 835 acres in the early ‘80s, which was the entire area planted in sorghum. At first, the gains were impressive. With such production nationwide, India was able to stockpile vast reserves of grain. Some critics claimed that the surplus came partly from lack of purchasing power, and average nutrition had actually fallen. But at least the food was there for some price, and was usable for famine relief. With irrigation, the productivity of hybrid crops was often spectacular. Those who could afford it sunk motorized pumps to irrigate their fields. With that dramatic rise in groundwater consumption, the villagers watched the water levels in their wells fall, often by several feet a year. By the 1980s, thousands of additional villages each year faced the strangely terrifying prospect of water famine in the dry season. Larger heads of hybrid grain meant reduced straw. And as in the Garhwal Himalaya, this meant less fodder, less natural fertilizer and greater demand on the local grass or trees for fuel. The loss of trees as natural groundwater pumps allowed further decline in the water table. If the groundwater fell too far, almost all the trees would die. Since hybrid crops were vulnerable to local pests, the farmers often tried to protect their investment with pesticides. Some pesticides also eliminated weeds in the fields. These weeds were formerly picked and eaten by field workers. Now, use of chemical poisons tended to eliminate both the weeding jobs, and the weeds as food. In that case the village women, who were earlier deprived of food from the forests, were now deprived of natural food in the cultivated fields as well. The gains of the green revolution were well publicized. In Kurugund village, at first the HYV sorghum yielded seven to eight quintals per acre. But due to a complex environmental decline, this yield fell to an average of under four quintals by the early 1980s. In that case, the traditional breeds were again competitive in strictly quantitative terms. Villages across the country had similar results. Shiva warned that “It is precisely because ... essential links in the food chain have been ignored and destroyed by ‘developed’ and ‘scientific’ agriculture that the croplands ... are rapidly being turned into deserts.” But the “green revolution” was still officially seen as a cure rather than a cause of India’s problems. It was mainly the supposedly ignorant villagers who started to think otherwise. By the 1980s, the tide in the countryside began running back toward traditional kinds of gardening. The Kurugund villagers in 1986 planted only 460 acres in HYV sorghum, which was down by nearly half from several years before. The village culture was showing its balance, trying new things, but moving away from all that was not sustainable. The traditional village ecology was a resilient partnership of local plants, animals and humans. Perhaps some measure of respect for that trans-species culture is now returning, so it is no longer seen as something to be brushed aside from the path of progress. Hopefully science can now be used, not to dismantle traditional ecosystems, but to fine-tune them for synergy and sustainability. To bring back green cover to the country, Anil Agarwal says, would be “the real green revolution.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership

    One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here. An unusual yet compelling mixure of Hindu mythology and scientific data, this book traces the historical and conceptual roots of development as a project of gender ideology, and analyses how the particular economic assumptions of Western patriarchy, aimed exclusively at profits, have subjugated the more humane assum One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here. An unusual yet compelling mixure of Hindu mythology and scientific data, this book traces the historical and conceptual roots of development as a project of gender ideology, and analyses how the particular economic assumptions of Western patriarchy, aimed exclusively at profits, have subjugated the more humane assumptions of economics as the provision of sustenance. This has made for a crisis of poverty rooted in ecological devastation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karena

    I just can't get into this "radical" scientific stance. Even though I sympathize and believe in feminism and sustainability (and spirituality), my intuition says there's something wrong here. Black and white feminism? As another reviewer on Goodreads wrote, "it's written in academese oppression-speak..." I just can't get into this "radical" scientific stance. Even though I sympathize and believe in feminism and sustainability (and spirituality), my intuition says there's something wrong here. Black and white feminism? As another reviewer on Goodreads wrote, "it's written in academese oppression-speak..."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rhythima

    Everything the current approach towards 'sustainability' (read, green washing) actually misses: support and listen the locals. Everything the current approach towards 'sustainability' (read, green washing) actually misses: support and listen the locals.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Esma Nalbant Arabacı

    “...Üçüncü dünya kadınları ayrıcalıklı bir hayatta kalma uzmanlığına sahip olmalarına karşın, bilgileri dışlayıcı değil, kapsayıcıdır...”

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ananya

    why should development mean participating in the global market at all? what ever is wrong with producing and feeding on millet, wearing natural fibers like linen/jute, and living in mud huts? survival > development? i am not sarcastic, i really am dealing with these questions. i was on the other end of the spectrum for so long. i got educated, i guess.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    I picked up this book because I'm really interested in understanding more about ideas of imposed development versus "poverty"- how poverty is defined and perceived and how true poverty is caused often by the proposed "solutions" to it. I'm interested in the way Shiva sees the issues as gendered. "It is useful to separate a cultural conception of subsistence living as poverty from the material experience of poverty that is a result of dispossession and deprivation. Culturally perceived poverty nee I picked up this book because I'm really interested in understanding more about ideas of imposed development versus "poverty"- how poverty is defined and perceived and how true poverty is caused often by the proposed "solutions" to it. I'm interested in the way Shiva sees the issues as gendered. "It is useful to separate a cultural conception of subsistence living as poverty from the material experience of poverty that is a result of dispossession and deprivation. Culturally perceived poverty need not be real material poverty... Yet the ideology of development declares them so because they do not participate overwhelmingly in the market economy, and do not consume commodities produced for a distributed through the market even though they might be satisfying those needs through self-provisioning mechanisms." "The economic system based on the patriarchal concept of productivity was created for the very specific historical and political phenomenon of colonialism."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Setjoeil Asa

    Awas! Buku ini bisa bikin pembacanya malu. Dua kali malu malah. Pertama, secara umum, malu menjadi manusia. Kedua, secara khusus, malu menjadi laki-laki. Buku tentang India, kebanyakkan yang sudah saya baca, asyik-asyik. Negeri Bahagia-nya Dominique Lapierre, Yang Maha Kecil-nya Arundhati Roy, dan terakhir buku ini. R. Tagore kapan-kapan. Mungkin. Apa Orang-orang yang mati kepanasan di India akhir-akhir ini (saya cuma nonton berita) bisa dikaitkan dengan kajian Vandana Shiva ini? Di dekat-dekat si Awas! Buku ini bisa bikin pembacanya malu. Dua kali malu malah. Pertama, secara umum, malu menjadi manusia. Kedua, secara khusus, malu menjadi laki-laki. Buku tentang India, kebanyakkan yang sudah saya baca, asyik-asyik. Negeri Bahagia-nya Dominique Lapierre, Yang Maha Kecil-nya Arundhati Roy, dan terakhir buku ini. R. Tagore kapan-kapan. Mungkin. Apa Orang-orang yang mati kepanasan di India akhir-akhir ini (saya cuma nonton berita) bisa dikaitkan dengan kajian Vandana Shiva ini? Di dekat-dekat sini pun air sudah mulai susah. Mau air bersih musti beli. Beli Aqua katanya turut membantu daerah kekeringan. Apa iya ya? Katanya kekeringan itu salahnya El Nino seorang. Fernando Torres memang jarang mencetak gol di Chelsea, tapi apa patut dicemooh sampai sedemikiannya. Ah?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ike Sharpless

    A solid introduction to ecofeminism in particular and Shiva's brand of anti-globalization agroecology more generally (although Earth Democracy provides more of an 'entry level' critique). As with most work of this nature, I think this book needs some serious parsing - as in, it's written in academese oppression-speak, and needs to be understood as such - but it contains some key insights about the gendering of science and related issues. A solid introduction to ecofeminism in particular and Shiva's brand of anti-globalization agroecology more generally (although Earth Democracy provides more of an 'entry level' critique). As with most work of this nature, I think this book needs some serious parsing - as in, it's written in academese oppression-speak, and needs to be understood as such - but it contains some key insights about the gendering of science and related issues.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Suman Pant

    I personally liked this book. But hard to read, a lot of ranting and kind of gets repetitive. Its not for you if you don't like/understand post modernism, or post modern feminism. I personally liked this book. But hard to read, a lot of ranting and kind of gets repetitive. Its not for you if you don't like/understand post modernism, or post modern feminism.

  17. 4 out of 5

    C.

    I really think this would be improved if she defined her terms. And wasn't so wanky. I really think this would be improved if she defined her terms. And wasn't so wanky.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Will Payne

    Vandana Shiva is one of the most prolific writers of the ecofeminist movement, a type of intersectional feminism which links the destruction of women’s traditional role as agricultural producers to both female disempowerment and environmental degradation. In the West, this movement has been criticized as mythicizing women, but you’ll find none of that here. Shiva’s writing is deeply rooted in the struggle of small-holder farmers in northern India and the Punjab, where she grew up, and her propos Vandana Shiva is one of the most prolific writers of the ecofeminist movement, a type of intersectional feminism which links the destruction of women’s traditional role as agricultural producers to both female disempowerment and environmental degradation. In the West, this movement has been criticized as mythicizing women, but you’ll find none of that here. Shiva’s writing is deeply rooted in the struggle of small-holder farmers in northern India and the Punjab, where she grew up, and her proposals are as pragmatic as they are fierce. “Staying Alive” is a hard book to describe because it is so forcefully articulate, and covers a remarkable breadth of topics. The best word for it is probably “virtuosic.” Building from theoretical critiques of modern development and modern science in the first two chapters, the book enters a discussion of the ways that changes in agricultural practice, particularly GMOs and the “Green Revolution,” have hurt the poor—especially poor women. Shiva’s approach, although an intense criticism of the entire establishment of modern agriculture, is nonviolent—she advocates re-establishing a “feminine principle” in agriculture and development which respects traditional knowledge and develops natural resources over long periods of time. Shiva links these principles to Hindu cosmology, making an argument for a feminine ethos of “Prakrti,” in agricultural production, which respects both traditional beliefs and traditional ecological practices. Shiva is an activist and a radical, and her work can be challenging to adjust to—it can be easy to perceive some of her claims as overblown, particularly when she discusses her zero-tolerance stance on GMOs, or her wholesale interpretation of science as misogynistic. Some critical thought is helpful when reading these claims. However, Shiva’s overall approach is quite valuable, and is well worth considering. There are major undiscussed problems inside the “progress” of modern development, and there are under-studied alternatives to dominant economic and agricultural practices. Combining elements of feminism, conservationism, and human rights can have a very productive impact on the debate, and Shiva’s perspective is a valuable contribution on the side of small-holder farmers, rural women, and traditional agriculture.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Merve

    bu kitap kesinlikle bilginizi ve dünyaya, ve dünyada hakim olan politikalara bakışınızı değiştirecek. Mesela biyoyakıtın petrolün alternatif olabileceğini düşünür desteklerdim, oysa Vandana Shiva aynı fikirde değil. Sonuçta biyoyakıtın, köylerde yemek pişirmek vs. için yakılan gübre, tezek yada bakliyat sapları gibi makul şeylerden değil, mısır, arpa gibi nişasta açısından zengin ürünler, şeker kamışı gibi sakaroz açısından zengin şeylerden üretildiğinden bahsediyor ve gıdanın bu yolla yakıta çe bu kitap kesinlikle bilginizi ve dünyaya, ve dünyada hakim olan politikalara bakışınızı değiştirecek. Mesela biyoyakıtın petrolün alternatif olabileceğini düşünür desteklerdim, oysa Vandana Shiva aynı fikirde değil. Sonuçta biyoyakıtın, köylerde yemek pişirmek vs. için yakılan gübre, tezek yada bakliyat sapları gibi makul şeylerden değil, mısır, arpa gibi nişasta açısından zengin ürünler, şeker kamışı gibi sakaroz açısından zengin şeylerden üretildiğinden bahsediyor ve gıdanın bu yolla yakıta çevrilmesinin mısır ve soya vb. ürünlerin fiyatlarını arttırarak 3. dünya ülkeleri için boş mideler, dolu tankerlere yol açtığını vurguluyor. Aynı zamanda biyoyakıt üretiminde kullanılan ürünlerin ekimi için bir çok ormanın tahrip edildiği ve biyoyakıt ürerilirken de oldukça enerji harcandığından, bu yeni çeşit yakıtın, azaltması beklenirken küresel ısınmaya katkı sağladığından bahsediyor. Ve tüm bunları sadece kitabın giriş bölümünde öğrenmiş olmam, açıkçası kitabı okumak için olan hevesimi oldukça arttırdı. Ancak aslına bakarsanız okuması o kadar kolay bir kitap değil, bir nevi ders kitabı gibi; size yeni şeyler ve farklı bakış açıları öğretiyor, ancak kitaptaki konular ilginizi çekmezse okuması zor olabiliyor. Dolayısıyla bende zaman zaman okurken sıkılmadım değil. O yüzden ilgimi çekmeyen konuları atlayarak, ilgimi çeken konulara yöneldim. Sonuçta bu bir roman değil, o yüzden böyle yapmakta da bir sakınca görmedim.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura De Arana

    Me parece flipante que este libro tenga ya treinta años. Me ha gustado mucho la forma de informar, el toque íntimo de reproducir palabras emocionantes de campesinas y activistas. Es un ensayo muy empírico y eso me ha gustado, es difícil encontrar eso en un ensayo social. Aunque estoy muy de acuerdo en que la sociedad nace de los cuidados y que los cuidados han sido ocupación de las mujeres desde siempre, no creo que las mujeres entendamos mejor la naturaleza. Al menos, no por algo natural. Tradici Me parece flipante que este libro tenga ya treinta años. Me ha gustado mucho la forma de informar, el toque íntimo de reproducir palabras emocionantes de campesinas y activistas. Es un ensayo muy empírico y eso me ha gustado, es difícil encontrar eso en un ensayo social. Aunque estoy muy de acuerdo en que la sociedad nace de los cuidados y que los cuidados han sido ocupación de las mujeres desde siempre, no creo que las mujeres entendamos mejor la naturaleza. Al menos, no por algo natural. Tradicionalmente, hemos estado siempre al cuidado de la familia. Y si entiendes la naturaleza como tu familia, pues sí, la hemos cuidado nosotras. Pero por algo cultural. Por eso no me ha gustado esa distinción entre campesinos y mujeres. Como si las mujeres que cuidan la tierra no fueran campesinas, sino mujeres siendo mujeres. Esta idea me parece algo limitante, pero también le tengo en cuenta el tiempo que tiene al libro.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Haniah

    This book is nonstop information!! She begins the book with themes of anticolonialism, intersectional feminism, and environmentalism and does not let you breathe until the last page. My only complaint is I found her book to be lacking evidence (simply quoting general, not specific anecdotal evidence) and it was so dense that it felt like one long rant. But I loved the topics covered so I really didn't mind. This book is nonstop information!! She begins the book with themes of anticolonialism, intersectional feminism, and environmentalism and does not let you breathe until the last page. My only complaint is I found her book to be lacking evidence (simply quoting general, not specific anecdotal evidence) and it was so dense that it felt like one long rant. But I loved the topics covered so I really didn't mind.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Beatrice Spencer

    Interesting perspective. Vandana Shiva confronts the capitalist and masculine principles through an unique perspective that always us to question many of the theories and systems in place today.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clivemichael

    Powerful indictment of a destructive path.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Muy interesante, da una nueva perspectiva a los conceptos de desarrollo y conocimiento que dan mucho que pensar sobre cómo hemos estado haciendo las cosas hasta ahora.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karim

    The author makes a convincing case for the role woman have in the conservation and sustainable agriculture movement. But the ultimate disappointment was the "radical scientist" position the author described. Under this label, the author accused the scientific method of "being inherently patriarchal" and even admonished the use of controls in experiments as a destructive patriarchal practice. The evidence used to support these claims was an unrelated criticism of reductionism in science that ignor The author makes a convincing case for the role woman have in the conservation and sustainable agriculture movement. But the ultimate disappointment was the "radical scientist" position the author described. Under this label, the author accused the scientific method of "being inherently patriarchal" and even admonished the use of controls in experiments as a destructive patriarchal practice. The evidence used to support these claims was an unrelated criticism of reductionism in science that ignores the various fields (e.g. systems biology, network theory) that employ the scientific method with a holistic approach. It is with out a doubt that patriarchy enforced misogyny is a tragedy of modern science that has cast a long shadow. But the author rather weakly argues that this issue is a problem ingrained in the processes and methods of science rather than the misogynist culture that has surrounded the profession. Ironically, the author uses statistical data to persuade the reader to adopt various viewpoints. Statistics that is reliant on the use of controls and null hypotheses the author disparages. It with out a doubt that patriarchy enforced misogyny is a tragedy of modern science that has cast a long shadow. But to the author has wasted her, and her audience's time, trying to show that the using the scientific method is patriarchal. I believe that arguing that the inclusion of more women in the scientific profession would of been a more convincing argument for her position.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nufach

    Why i give five star for this book? Maybe, I can give 3 or 4. But not for this book. Im a girl with economic basic study. I learn about the theory and i suprise that economic history in this world is the story about the kolonialism. I found at almost literature people fighted with another. Why? Just because they need food or money? Or they need something more than it? Along learn about economic, i know that every people have a motif economic when do something. If they want u to help then, they wi Why i give five star for this book? Maybe, I can give 3 or 4. But not for this book. Im a girl with economic basic study. I learn about the theory and i suprise that economic history in this world is the story about the kolonialism. I found at almost literature people fighted with another. Why? Just because they need food or money? Or they need something more than it? Along learn about economic, i know that every people have a motif economic when do something. If they want u to help then, they will hope u back someday to do the samething. So why we hope another people? And today, we can watch the world full of dramatic life. We are in a front the stage and let the people drive us from backstage. Ya, its like Irfing Goffman said, dramaturgi. In this book, we are not discuss just about women, but the relation between women and the nature. What they should do, why women protect the nature, until the topic about to save women have the same meaning if you save woman. Because woman is human who will create next generation will be. Finally, happy read this book

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hoku

    Dense read. Each sentence packs a punch. Her perspective is utterly enticing and inspiring. Women, ecology, and development seems like it could never be in one sentence--other than an eco-feminist one. The way she dismantles an entire system of thought to blatantly say what we do to our women, as a society, is exactly what we do to our environment makes this worth reading.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nick Mather

    Shiva's critique of development (which she refers to as maldevelopment) and the western notion of progress is important. In this seminal work, she connects develoment with colonialism and the oppression of women. Her argument, backed up with sufficient facts and figures, is persuasive and moving, challenging readers to rethink development in the global south. Shiva's critique of development (which she refers to as maldevelopment) and the western notion of progress is important. In this seminal work, she connects develoment with colonialism and the oppression of women. Her argument, backed up with sufficient facts and figures, is persuasive and moving, challenging readers to rethink development in the global south.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Overall interesting ideas and a compelling approach to the (much necessary) interdisciplinary perspective on the environment, especially concerning "peasant" woman. Although I agree with the dichotomy of sustainable versus destructive maintenance/management of ecosystems, labelling it as a "feminine" vs. "masculine" seems reductive. Overall interesting ideas and a compelling approach to the (much necessary) interdisciplinary perspective on the environment, especially concerning "peasant" woman. Although I agree with the dichotomy of sustainable versus destructive maintenance/management of ecosystems, labelling it as a "feminine" vs. "masculine" seems reductive.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Feathers

    Initially published in the u.s. in 1988, the book's primary focus is on the impact of corporations and other post-colonial entities on the women of India. Globalization of corporations and their greed for resources have not improved in the almost 30 years since publication, and the book can be read as a common plight for all 2nd and 3rd world women. Initially published in the u.s. in 1988, the book's primary focus is on the impact of corporations and other post-colonial entities on the women of India. Globalization of corporations and their greed for resources have not improved in the almost 30 years since publication, and the book can be read as a common plight for all 2nd and 3rd world women.

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