Women, Religion, and Environmental Protection in Taiwan
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|By Wan-Li Ho|
Ecofamilism proposes a new analytical framework, moving beyond ecofeminism, based on Western feminism and Christian theology, to illuminate Taiwanese women’s motivations and how they understand their role in the environmental movement. Based on extensive interviews with women founders, leaders, and members of six non-governmental, often religious-based, organizations from 1990-2015, the work presents contemporary issues in Taiwan from the perspectives of social anthropology, geography, inter-religious cooperation, and global ethics. Ecofamilism offers a new way of approaching life in contemporary Asia, engaging more precisely with while authentically portraying the experiences of Taiwanese women—whose gender roles are ancillary to motivations of family, religion, and society. Its key concept of ecofamilism pairs the notions of ecology and family while drawing on Chinese religio-cultural traditions of responsibility to the family to illuminate ecologically responsible positions toward society, environment, and all living beings.
Wan-Li Ho received her Ph.D. in religion from Temple University and is currently a senior lecturer in Chinese and Chinese religion at Emory University. Her research interests include Chinese religion, interreligious dialogue, comparative ecofeminism, and Chinese language pedagogy. She has co-authored The Tao of Jesus: An Experiment in Inter-Religious Understanding (Paulist Press, 1998) and Access China – An Interactive Classroom Video Course for Chinese Learning (Century Publishing House, 2012), as well as published numerous book chapters and journal articles.
The great contribution of Wan-Li Ho’s book is to integrate gender, religion, ethnicity, and environmentalism into the careful examination of Taiwan’s six noted environmental NGOs and their movements. The innovative notion of multidimensional “ecofamilism” advocated by Ho to modify the existing unidimensional “ecofeminism” derived from the West is interesting and useful to gain a better understanding of the indigenous roots of Taiwanese environmental activism. – Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
Professor Ho has made an invaluable contribution to scholarship in intersecting disciplines—ecology, Feminism, Taiwan Studies, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism—as well as burgeoning fields of ecofamilism and leadership studies. Her research reveals important insights into the inner workings of women-led NGOs, through interviews with dedicated nuns, homemakers, mothers, and professionals who are aborigines, Buddhists, Christians. This is a work in the vanguard of a truly Global Philosophy! – Sandra A. Wawrytko, San Diego State University
Instead of ecofeminism, this pioneering work introduces ecofamilism as a framework to describe women’s environmental activism in Taiwan. Using concrete case studies, Dr. Wai-Li Ho examines the intersection between environmental concerns and the care for the entire family of planetary life. The book contributes to our understanding of women’s environmental movements in a non-Western context. I highly recommend it. – Kwok Pui Lan, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass.
In this book, Ho Wan-li introduces us to six environmentally active groups in Taiwan comprised largely of women, including mothers, housewives, nuns and aboriginals; Buddhist, Catholic and secular. These women are for the most part informed not by Western theoretical models of ecofeminism, but rather by what Ho terms "eco-familism" -- the conviction that any real and sustainable change must begin with the family, and from there, extend outwards to include the community, the society and nature at large. Drawing on traditional Chinese cultural and religious values, the environmental activism of these remarkable and yet often quite ordinary women, reflects an alternative model of "extended family" that is inclusive, non-gender specific, and based on a profound but eminently practical vision of the interdependence of human beings and the natural world. Confronted as we so often are nowadays by dark and despairing warnings of ecological catastrophe, the quiet conviction and devoted activism of these Taiwanese women is both eye-opening and inspiring. – Beata Grant, Washington University, St. Louis
Ecofamilialism offers a new theoretical category to look at the intersection of religion, ecology and Chinese culture. It emerges from a wealth of data from the lives of contemporary Chinese women and offers a unique perspective on global and local environmental movements. it is an entirely original and groundbreaking contribution to environmental discourse in the Chinese cultural world. – James Miller, Queen's University, Canada