United States

Merchant, Carolyn. Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender, and Science in New England. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

Almost thirty years ago, Carolyn Merchant demonstrated how a confluence of social and ecological pressures triggered a shift from predominantly subsistence-based agriculture to a surplus-oriented agricultural structure in eighteenth-century New England. She argued that the increased demographic pressure caused by colonization coupled with new demands on the regional ecology to push farmers toward a capitalist mode of food production with massive ramifications not only for soil fertility, but for the gendering of social relations, as many “farm women were not only wives, mothers and grandmothers, but also vegetable and poultry producers, food processors, cheese and butter makers, spinners, carders, weavers, sewers, herbalists, healers, and sometimes teachers or midwives, as well”.[1] The concomitant exhaustion of soils and feminization of commerce was something that Merchant also attributed to the system of patriarchal inheritance and its effect of reducing farm sizes over generations and exacerbating their dependence on dwindling ecological reserves. Merchant’s insights are invaluable, for they demonstrate the complex socio-ecological tensions between production and reproduction that push settler societies toward destructive, export-oriented agriculture. Moreover, the analytical nexus she draws between ecology, economy and gender offers a useful paradigm for understanding those tensions.[2] However, her analysis neglected the important realm of representation, especially the gendered representation of space.

[1] Carolyn Merchant, Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender, and Science in New England (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 150–53.

[2] I am drawing especially from Part Two: “The Capitalist Ecological Revolution” Merchant, Ecological Revolutions.


One of the great claims of modern architecture was its rebuke of history. In clean lines, open spaces, expressed structures and "honest" use of materials, there was a social preoccupation that looked on nationalism, history and their expression through ornamentation with a wary suspicion, one freshly jaded by world wars and the rise of fascism in Europe.
That's why it is so telling to see how modern aesthetics were seized upon at mid century, yet purged of their social significance. Another case of Derrida's dangerous supplement, flat roofs and horizontality proved easily co-opted in capitalism's search for an origin myth.
Take this 1958 Chrysler-made documentary on design:
"By the way things look as well as the way they perform our homes acquire new grace, new glamour, new accommodations, expressing not only the American love of beauty, but also the basic freedom of the American people, which is the freedom of individual choice". (5:40)

More work to potentially be added to the family on film project.

Shot on a grey Portland day with the Calumet c400, schneider symmar 5.6/150 circa 1964.

Some Vancouver friends came to visit awhile back and we found a great wall of western red cedar. The rich combination of splendid souls and one of the better conifers made it a great chance to do more work on my family series, so I got out my grandfather's Mamiya C-220 and went to town. 

tucker sharon