Climate guardian angels: Feminist ecology and the activist tradition

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In this chapter, Denise Varney asks what happens when the environment becomes the subject and object of feminist enquiry as it does with ecofeminist performance, particularly around the concept of nature, and its associations with the innate qualities of character or things. While ecocriticism and theory is well developed in theatre and performance studies through the work of Una Chaudhuri, Baz Kershaw, Wendy Arons and Theresa May, and Steve Bottoms, among others-ecofeminist performance remains a minority form of feminist theory and activism. She then considers the Australian activist ensemble, the Climate Guardians, who stage outdoor performance actions dressed as angels in long white gowns adorned with large swooping organza wings. Utilizing a mode of performance consisting of hosting, gathering, or manifesting en masse in public spaces including in Paris for COP 21, she argues that this fascinating troupe draws on iconic traditions, not to reactivate them in an essentialist way but to dissolve the destructive divisions between the human and non-human worlds. In conclusion, Varney argues that the Climate Guardians’ efficacy is based in a rejection of dualisms even as they evoke them. They appropriate and radicalize spectacular iconography to contest climate change discourse in the public arena.




Varney, D. (2017). Climate guardian angels: Feminist ecology and the activist tradition. In Feminist Ecologies: Changing Environments in the Anthropocene (pp. 135–153). Springer International Publishing.

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