Embracing Humanity and Reclaiming Nature: Neglected Gendered Discourses in the Struggles of Western Cape Farm Workers
Keywords:farm workers, ecofeminism, agriculture, deep ecology
This essay reflects on the unheeded cry from South Africa’s most marginalised people—farm workers—for recognition of their personhood and right to dignity. Their continuing struggles for decent wages and living conditions in South Africa’s neoliberal agricultural system, which primarily values efficiency and profit, risk further entrenching a dehumanising system and reproducing similar conditions of exploitation. Among other radical writers, Frantz Fanon has alerted us to the need to strive for a “universal humanity” as a way out of this paradox, while many indigenous peoples’ movements have gone further to insist that we reclaim the sacredness of all of nature and recognise that humans and their economy are derivative from and subordinate to nature. These alternative and counter-colonial traditions often implicitly or explicitly invoke ideas about the feminine and the sacred in their definitions of resisting or transcending oppression. Such movements suggest that what is needed is to reclaim our sacred attitude to nature and to one another, and to fundamentally restructure and transform the blueprints of our societies to reflect this attitude.
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