Healing ecology in Aurora Levins Morales's writings on environmental illness

Yu Chen Tai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Toxicant increase and chemical consumption are normalized in industrial and neoliberal capitalism. Within this context, bodies with environmental illness [EI], also known as multiple chemical sensitivity [MCS] intolerant to common chemicals, are rendered illegitimate because the bodies expose illusionary safe zones delineated by the dominant society. To explore the subjectivities of people with EI, this article looks into U.S. Latina feminist writer Aurora Levins Morales's narratives on her multiple illnesses and disabilities collected in Kindling: Writings on the Body (2013). This article argues that Levins Morales adopts resistant storytelling to turn herself from an object of biomedical diagnosis to a subject of decolonial diagnosis. On the one hand, Levins Morales uses her bodily knowledge to reveal a toxic landscape that subjects bodies with EI to epistemic invalidation. On the other hand, she points to a healing politics that is guided by radical co-presence of bodies with various materializations. In the context of EI, healing is not about strengthening one’s ability to tolerate more toxins but to undergo cosmopolitical re-worlding. To re-world is to dare to think and live with different bodies side by side and contemporaneously by decolonizing the compartmentalization of differences imposed by structures of domination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 2


  • Aurora Levins Morales
  • Latina writers
  • MCS
  • decolonial epistemology
  • environmental illness
  • healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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