Breaking through the silence: Towards an ecofeminist theory of international relations

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Vendulka Kubalkova - Committee Chair


The discipline of International Relations has been criticized for being exclusionary in terms of both content and philosophical premises. Alternatives have been offered from primarily two sources: (1) internal adjustments of mainstream theories to allow for the inclusion of additional subject matter, and (2) post-positivist perspectives which provide new philosophical approaches and enable major content shifts.Ecofeminism is a world-view forged from social, cultural, and theological roots which has found expression in a variety of activist movements throughout the world. Recent attempts towards the development of a formal theory of ecofeminism show promise. The basic tenets of ecofeminism are consistent with the content adjustments currently in progress in parts of mainstream International Relations theory, and its epistemological and ontological foundations mesh well with the post-positivist suggestions of alternatives to current mainstream theories. Ecofeminism is unique, however, in that it is capable of overcoming some of the weaknesses inherent to most theories of International Relations: because of its continuing commitment to activism and its rapidly developing theoretical foundation, it constructs a model of bridging theory and practice in international relations.Drawing out the connections between the ecofeminist perspective of human society and some of the current IR perspectives regarding international relations serves to strengthen both perspectives. Ecofeminism gains clarity, particularly in its conceptions of how systems of domination (patriarchy) function. The discipline of IR gains a framework of a post-positivist social theory that, unlike most of the post-positivist suggestions now challenging mainstream IR, offers solutions to that which it seeks to destroy.


Women's Studies; Political Science, International Law and Relations

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