What follows are some excerpts from an Anne Elvey  article I picked up at the Creation Symposium (full article available here) interesting reading for anyone thinking about the ways our disconnection to the earth is mirrored in our disconnection from our own bodies

In being transcended through certain forms of western discourse and practice, bodies and earth have been critically endangered.  In the context of this endangerment, an ecological feminist politics and ethics seeks to affirm the materiality of bodies and earth.

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080The language we use in addressing the question of the relationship between culture and nature is critical, because discourse is one of the key processes through which we construct the agency or non-agency of the other and create structures that allow or disallow that agency.

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As with all experience, sexual experience is vast, not only in its possibilities but in the resonance of even the simplest sensation. Desire, longing, pleasure, passion, orgasm, move the body into states of being which defy all definitions, not only those of gender or sexuality but of the boundaried way European culture perceives existence… Apart from any bond or relationship between lovers, in sexual experience an erotic connection to existence is kindled.

(Katherine Hayles, 1995:60)

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I take up the now fairly commonplace notion of earth as a community of interconnected constituents.  This community includes humans, other animals, plants, rocks, soil, water, air, trees, rivers, oceans, forests, hairy-nosed wombats, viruses, kangaroo apples, hermit crabs, amoeba and so on, connected by way of a complex sociality marked by plurality, particularity, diversity, interdependence and sometimes violence, oppression and indifference to the other.  What if this earth, however we might know earth, is understood as a material given that precedes and resists but also underpins and gives space to our cultural constructions of it? This space is given not as a hole to be filled but in the manner of hospitality or to borrow a term from Jean-Luc Nancy (2000) of ‘being toward’. What if this understanding of the earth is giving precedence in our thinking about the questions of ‘sex and gender’? What if the questions of ‘sex and gender’ are considered within the context of the materiality of human beings as constituted within the wider materiality of a plural and diverse earth community?

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082The experience of the lived body offers a particular example of the agency of experience.  In pregnancy and childbirth as well as in illness, the lived body challenges my ‘illusions of control’ (Diprose 1994:103). During an illness, for example, my bodily experience is foregrounded in such a way that the interplay between nature and culture in the processes of my lived embodiment cannot be reduced to a simplistic notion of the cultural construction of bodies or nature… feels nevertheless as though the virus is in some sense constructing or deconstructing me.

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She describes two forms of cultural impact on bodies and landscapes: first, the productive transformation of bodies and landscapes through cultural practices such as depilation and agriculture, for example, and second, the reproduction of bodies and landscape in discourse. (Kate Soper, 1995:137)

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Instead she locates this agency not in the individual organism alone; rather it is an ‘agency in relation’, emerging ‘out of the engagement of the organism with its surroundings’.  In this context, sexed bodies are continually being shaped and re-shaped both internally and externally through processes which are ‘partly material and partly social/experiential’, and these processes are inseparable. (Lynda Birke 2000:152)

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Contemplation is a practice of attentiveness to the other, which begins with a movement of unknowing and through a practice of openness is followed by a movement of partial and provisional ‘knowing’