115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Life, Reconnected

Kristin Kawecki, University of California, Davis

This presentation highlights how spiritual awareness of the interconnectedness of life can prompt an “ethic of caring”. In Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony it is through relearning the ontology of his Laguna Pueblo people that Tayo finds the strength to break out of a cycle of violence espoused by patriarchal, Western institutions which devalues cultural and spiritual knowledge and alternative models of viewing the other/self, demonstrating the value of alternative ontologies which help us to live in ways which are life-preserving versus life-destroying.


A patriarchal logic in which the self is elevated through violence of the other is one which leads to a cycle of violence, ecofeminists have responded to this through advocating for an alternative ontology which revolves around an understanding of life as interconnected, rather than as perceived as divided using the binary patriarchal logic of 1/0 espoused by Western institutions, as argued by Karen Warren and Ariel Salleh. The difficulty though is in establishing this understanding of interconnectedness, when it is inherently “wrong” by patriarchal logic. Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel, Ceremony, advocates that a reconnection with indigenous spiritual knowledge is an effective method for reawakening an understanding of the interconnectedness of life, for once the protagonist, Tayo, reconnects with an earth spirituality through relearning the spiritual wisdom of his Laguna people, he is profoundly changed—even healed— by the wisdom of interconnectedness. In approaching the novel in an unto examined ecofeminist lens, Tayo is able to leave the cycle of violence enabled through harm-espousing logic imposed by Western institutions through his regained knowledge of life as interconnected. This prompts him to adopt instead an ethic of care in which one has a “loving perception” to others, treating them with respect and care. In my presentation I will contend that finding this alternative ontology is critical in a world in which the environment, as well as women and other minorities, are exploited in order to fulfill the Western, patriarchal model of “progress” in which the self is elevated through violence unto the other. It is through learning about how to reach alternative ways of seeing and knowing life that we can help create a world in which we unite to preserve life.