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Ecofeminism in Island Asia and Oceania


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA program in Asian Studies or the MA program in International Relations


I want to tell you about that lagoon
that lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against the sunrise

men say that one day
that lagoon will devour you

they say it will gnaw at the shoreline
chew at the roots of your breadfruit trees
gulp down rows of your seawalls
and crunch your island’s shattered bones

they say you, your daughter
and your granddaughter, too
will wander rootless
with only a passport to call home …

Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner (Marshallese poet and educator)

From the Indian Ocean to Taiwan; from the Philippines to Tonga, this course covers the study of intersectional ecofeminism (ecofeminism in critical perspective) as a network of knowledges connecting people across the globe. Through the study of poetry, films, and paintings, we will explore the ways in which a variety of island ecofeminists have approached ecological crisis as social crisis. Thus, together we will position the notions of environmental racism and environmental justice in critical island perspectives. We will start with a review of the herstories of ecological feminisms: its tensions with environmental ideologies blind to histories of racial, ethnic, sexual and gender oppression and its conversations with feminist social and political ecology (including power dynamics and hierarchies between different realms of knowledge). This course centres around ecofeminism ethics and embodiment, in opposition, resistance, conversation and connection to environmental institutions and organisations. Here, the ecofeminist’s body becomes a living archive where stories of oppression are centred. Here, Asia travels across oceans, materialising as collective forms of ecological contestation through literature and art.

Course objectives

After successful completion of this course, students are able to:


  • Historically situate existing and new knowledges and allow new perspectives and approaches to critically inform opinions.

  • Describe, discuss and think critically about key debates and perspectives concerning intersectional ecofeminism as it is applied to the understanding of and as a response to: crisis, migration, activism, environmental theory, etc.

  • Assess the interrelatedness and mutually constitutive nature of politics, society, identity and ecology in a variety of island contexts across the world.

  • Construct and develop their own arguments as a response to urgent socioenvironmental matters in the world.

  • Critically situate scholarship and deconstruct biases (both personal and professional) and power relations which have also played an important role in defining and developing fields like environmental studies, ecology, geography and anthropology.

  • Broaden knowledge of ‘the environment’ by bringing perspectives and paradigms from the social sciences and humanities into existing knowledge stemming from the natural sciences.


  • Academically engage with the environmental theory of non-academic contexts and contribute to the advancement of epistemic diversity.

  • Analise academic literature pertaining to the themes discussed in the weekly seminars.

  • Formulate original arguments, in discussion and in writing, question and write an academic essay on a subject of choosing related to the course content.

  • Communicating opinions in an academic manner and with the assistance of existing relevant literature.

  • Assess the validity and reliability of research and literary sources beyond the politics of institutionalising knowledge.

  • Critically approach contemporary issues and the constitutive biases of primary and secondary sources, as well as media sources.

  • Be comfortable when in conversation with a wider array of sources of knowledge: poetry, film, paintings.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

The course is conducted in seminar-style meetings, which will take place once a week. This requires thorough preparation through the study of the compulsory readings and active engagement on the part of the students. Every week, students will need to complete compulsory readings and complete these with suggested further readings. In addition, they will have to show critical engagement with readings by submitting a short summary of the readings before the session. Class meetings will include short lectures, moderated plenary, and group discussions led and moderated by students. The attendance of classes is compulsory.

Assessment method


Student performance will be assessed in three ways:

First, students will submit a blogpost of no more than 300 words summarising the main ideas of the day’s readings. This will be submitted on to the Brightspace> Assignments> Commentary.
Second, each student will introduce and moderate a debate that relates to the week’s topics. Each debate will start with a brief introduction of no more than 10 minutes (the use of supporting visual material is also allowed) to then open the floor to the class. Each week, two students will run and moderate a debate or two- depending on whether or not they work together. This will be organised with the course convener during the first week of the course (35%).
Third, students are required to write a final reflective essay of 3000 words (excluding references/bibliography) further developing any of the topics and/or queries from the debate they had moderated in class (or, after consultation, a different topic) (40%).


The final mark for the course is established by determing the weighted average.


Please consult the Course and Exam Regulations.

Inspection and feedback

Students may make an individual appointment with the instructor within 30 days after the publication of their final grades in order to review the grades.

Reading list

The list of required readings (accessible via Leiden University Library) will be published on Brightspace before the semester starts.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: [Naam Onderwijsadministratie](link naar contactgegevens OA)