In this episode, Asmae Ourkiya shares their piece, “Bodies and Sexuality in Gilead: A Queer Ecofeminist Reading of The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Asmae Ourkiya (they/them) is a review editor for EHN. They are a Moroccan environmentalist and human rights activist residing in Cork, Ireland. After securing a Masters degree in Green Cultural Studies, Asmae is currently a PhD candidate and a research and teaching assistant at Mary Immaculate College at the University of Limerick. Their main research interests are queer ecofeminism, social justice, environmental justice, climate change, minority rights, and human rights. Asmae’s dissertation focuses on expanding queer intersectional ecofeminism. With the aim of disseminating their research findings, they are also a freelance journalist who contributed to a number of magazines and online platforms such as RTÉ Brainstorm and The Green News Ireland. They have also been active internationally to support different causes revolving around but not limited to climate justice, minority rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights.
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Notes and FUrther Reading
– Margaret Atwood is a Canadian novelist, poet, and critic known for her environmental activism in her writing. Her book The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian speculative novel published in 1985 that depicts the horrors of a totalitarian regime that took over the United States, and that enforces the domination and subjugation of women by men.
– Ecofeminism, as both an intersectional movement and critical theory, is useful for analyzing oppressive hierarchical systems and seeing how they are intertwined. Ecofeminism is an activist movement and literary theory that links the oppression of women and minorities to the oppression of nature. It emerged in the 1970s amidst women from different backgrounds and further developed in academia in the 1990s. Ecofeminism has been queered by a number of researchers in environmental humanities, including Jessica Ison, Catriona Sandilands, Greta Gaard, Joni Seage, and Ariel Salleh. These scholars have merged queer ecology and ecological feminism. They discuss the negative impacts of heterosexism and heteronormativity on society and our understanding of the natural world. For more, see also Asmae’s recent article on NiCHE.
– In Gilead, a woman with a sinful past is any woman who did not follow a Christian life, was in a relationship without marriage, was sleeping with a married man, gave birth to a child outside of marriage, or was a lesbian. Throughout the show, we learn that the handmaids were chosen based on these criteria, while righteous women were left to live in their households with their families.
– Michael P. Zirinsky, “Imperial Power and Dictatorship: Britain and the Rise of Reza Shah, 1921-1926,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 24, no. 4 (November 1992): 639-663. See more in Ervand Abrahamian’s Iran Between Two Revolutions (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982).
This show is produced and edited by Emma Moesswilde and Natalie Wilkinson, with music provided by Natalie Wilkinson and Christine Murphy. Special thanks to Elizabeth Hameeteman. For more on Ecotones Now, click here. Thanks for listening!