In this week’s Imagine Otherwise episode, I interview gender and health studies scholar Jade S. Sasser about how the long racist and sexist histories of population control shape current-day climate change debates and global health policy, how to approach scholarship from a position of social justice activism, bringing creative pursuits like photography into academic research, and why critiquing capitalist institutions instead of blaming marginalized individuals in debates over environmentalism is key to how Jade imagines otherwise.
You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Jade’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).
Guest: Jade S. Sasser
Jade S. Sasser is a scholar of gender, climate change, and women’s health. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Riverside, where she directs the major in Sustainability Studies.
For more than a decade, her work has focused on the intersections of global environmental problems with women’s bodies and health in the context of international development.
Her first book, On Infertile Ground: Population Control and Women’s Rights in the Era of Climate Change (NYU Press, 2018), explores the history and current iterations of global population advocacy at the nexus of climate change and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In addition, Jade has two new research projects. The first, which draws on fieldwork in Madagascar and Vietnam, explores the turn toward distribution of improved cookstoves in the Global South as a win-win development intervention for gender equality, public health, and environmental benefits. The second project, a partnership with the NAACP, analyzes the ways climate justice organizations in the U.S. incorporate gender justice into their work.
Jade earned a PhD in environmental science, policy, and management and an MA in cultural anthropology, both from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds an MPH in international health from Boston University.
“I want a world in which we recognize that these large-scale global environmental problems like climate change are not caused by women’s decisions and actions around childbearing. I want a world in which we recognize that capitalist development, extraction, and production of resources is what’s causing these large-scale environmental problems. I want a world in which we recognize that the militaristic pollution of land and the atmosphere is what’s causing these problems.
I really want us to think broadly in terms of scale and institutions when we identify the causes of global environmental problems and I want us to think about that scale in terms of where we assign blame and responsibility for solving those problems too.”
– Jade S. Sasser on episode 83 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast