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The sociologist Maria Mies dies, precursor of ecofeminism

  • On May 15, Maria Mies died (1931-2023) German sociologist at the age of 92, one of the main theoretical references of ecofeminism in recent decades. Along with Silvia Federici and others, Mies worked on the theoretical line of anticapitalist feminism, recognizing a productive character to the free work of social reproduction carried out mostly by women.

31 May 2023 - 07:52
Maria Mies soziologo eta militante ekofeminista alemana.

The daughter of the baserritarras, the seventh of a family of twelve children, managed to study and begin to be a first-class teacher. In the 1960s he moved to India to work in a center that the Goethe Institute had there, and – as Jorge Riechmann told us, he got to know him very close – he became politicized there. There he met Saral Sarkar, who married him to Germany; Sarkar has also worked on the environmentalism of the left and has his ideas collected in the blog Saral Sarkar's writings.

Again in Germany, Mies wrote a doctoral thesis on the conflicts that the women studied, middle-class, live in their female roles in India. From there he wrote other books on feminism, development policies and ecology. “Mies was considered an activist researcher,” says Riechmann. In 1976, when he was already a professor of sociology at the University of Cologne, he founded with a group of students the autonomous refuge of the first German women.

María Mies retreated in 1993, but has always continued to work militarily between feminist, alterglobalist and environmental movements. Very critical of neoliberal globalization and concerned about the wars it entailed, he also participated in the creation of the ATTAC organization. In 2008 he promoted the “Cologne Call on Cyberviolence” to request a ban on ‘killer video games’.

Mies published his autobiography in 2010: “The Village and the World: My Life, Our Times.” On the other hand, two texts in Spanish and French can serve the reader to understand how he saw the world from the eyes of ecofeminism. It is in Spanish “Freedom from consumption or politicization of everyday life”, written by Jorge Riechmann in 1992 and published in the magazine Whereas Meantime. On the other hand, in French “La Subsistance”, edited by Maria Mies together with Verónica Bennholdt-Thomsen in 1997. Une perspective écoféministe” (Survival. Introduction to the book Una visión feminista) for the 2022 edition of the magazine ‘Et vous n’avez encore rien vu…’.

Both authors point out in a passage from the new entry: "A generation emerges between the first edition of this text and the current one. How many things change in a quarter of a century! And yet, what hasn't changed is the obsession with economic growth, as in every nation, on the continents. The war on life carried by the globalised market economy, revolutionizing people’s ways of life on its belt, has only increased worldwide. Our ecofeminist analysis has therefore become more urgent than ever. From this perspective we hoped and believed that we could achieve something against the imperialist and patriarchal globalisation of the market that destroys ecosystems and destroys human connections. Today, almost everyone agrees that we have to rethink our civilization at the root, death or life. With the book 'Survival' we devote our attention to this debate.


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