Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

"Walloped" by the weather? Deflections, diversions, and dubious representations of women in climate change discourse

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  • Research shows that women's lives are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. While the topic of women is largely absent from climate discourse overall, the representations of women that occur reveal underlying structures of power rooted in imperialism and colonial dominance. This thesis presents an analysis of the ways in which the category "woman" is constructed in climate change discourse by utilizing data from the micro-blogging site in the 60 days surrounding the 17th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP17) in 2011. The findings of this research are that women are represented through imageries of violence and victimization, while simultaneously constructed as mythical heroines/warriors who will defend and save humanity from this global threat. Using transnational and postcolonial feminist theory, I critique these representations and examine the function and consequences of the narrow representations of women in climate change discourse. Based on the findings, this thesis suggests that a shift towards the discursive feminization of climate change could occur in the future, wherein the ways in which climate change is viewed and responded to may move from the current frame of governability, commodification, and securitization, to a frame that sees climate change as a "women's issue." Feminist intervention into climate change discourse is greatly lacking, and this thesis argues that feminist engagement with the problem of climate change is necessary for gender justice in our climate-altered world.
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