Video essays tell women's compelling stories

Posted by ap507 at Jun 04, 2018 09:37 AM |
Environmental challenges explored in novel nature writing by women in Philippines

Issued by University of Leicester on 4 June 2018

Images available here:

The powerful testimonies of women’s lived experience in challenging environments is being captured in a series of compelling  ‘video essays’ as part of a project to re-envision nature writing.

Filipina women tell their stories of life in marginal urban and agricultural environments through two videos that provide a platform for their nature writing. These video essays are in addition to traditional forms of written literature – like poems, stories and books.

The aim of the project, entitled ‘Nature Writing for Environmental Justice’, is to see how literature can influence environmental values. The video essays were supported by the University of Leicester, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and De La Salle University. Local partner organisations included National Rural Women’s Coalition, GABRIELA Philippines, and Center for Environmental Concerns.

Dr Brett Matulis, Principal Investigator and lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Leicester, said: “There’s a lot of talk about the economic value of nature these days, and how it can motivate environmental protection.

“However, we challenge this economic approach, taking the view that instead, culture has long been more influential in shaping people’s perceptions of the environment.

“Historically, environmental literature has been successful at encouraging people to value the environment and take action through public policy. It can still be influential today.”

Dr Matulis’s project aims to re-envision nature writing and place it in the hands of women living in marginal urban and agricultural environments in the Philippines. Through a series of participatory workshops, two groups of women worked to creatively express the challenges they face and priorities they have towards environmental protection and land access.

The project explores the potential of nature writing to empower disadvantaged communities, restore environmental rights, and transform the global conservation agenda.

The website states: “Nature writing, which entails personal reflection and creative expression through language to record experiences of the natural world, encompasses many different formats: from poems, short stories, fables, essays, and journal entries, to annotated drawings, short skits, lyrical compositions, and – in the modern era – visual and spoken word performance through various digital media.

“While the art form has historically been associated with white, Western, upper-middle-class men, and has thus tended to reinforce social segregation and inequity even while inspiring responsible stewardship of the natural world, we re-envisioned it here in the hands of Filipina women as an instrument of sustainable development and environmental justice.”

You can watch the video essays here:

Video 1, “Our Home”:

Video 2, “The Saving Tree”:

An anthology of Filipina Nature Writing is planned for 2019.


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