Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Pan-African Studies

Degree Program

Pan-African Studies, MA

Committee Chair

Logan, Mawuena Kossi

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

McCutheon, Priscilla

Committee Member

McCutheon, Priscilla

Committee Member

Anderson, David

Author's Keywords

alice walker; environmentalism; african-american environmental thought; ecofeminism, nature, spirituality


The emergence of African-American Environmental thought responds to the ongoing erasure of Black experiences and their perspectives on nature. Mainstream environmentalism maintains a legacy of perceived innocence and incorruptibility towards the land, while Black Environmentalism demonstrates the limitations of that ideology. Limitations include the erasure of history in regards to stealing land from Indigenous people, the brutality of slavery, legalized lynching, forced removal from the land, exploitation in sharecropping, destruction of sacred lands, heavy pollution in urban centers, and harmful environmental policies. For Black and Indigenous peoples, it is impossible to view American soil as innocent. This project surveyed the scholarship of prominent intellectuals within the growing field of African-American Environmental Thought and Ecofeminist Thought. Several scholars have examined the relational aspect of African Americans to their natural environment in the realms of environmental justice, poetry, and scholarship. However, few have considered the work of Alice Walker as fundamental texts towards an vi understanding of African Americans and their environment, particularly as it relates to healing and connection towards the self, community, and nature. In addition, I performed an environmentally based content analysis on the work of Alice Walker, specifically, her work in novel the Meridian. Her theory examines the tension that emerges between nature and identity, as Walker believes environmental alienation is a result of the devastating effects of oppression and her views offers reclamations of that very relationship. In addition to identifying her environmental theory, this project asked in what ways does Walker’s environmental thought emerge within Meridian and other poems and how does this concept guide the characters to define themselves in relation to nature, especially in the midst of environmental alienation, and what suggestions, if at all, do they offer towards the mending of that relationship? The primary fictional work that I utilize is Walker's novel Meridian, with a few selected poems from Her Blue Body Everything We Know and Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful. In addition, this project explores Alice Walker's environmental ideology as presented in her non-fiction work Anything We Love Can Be Saved, with supporting insights from In Search of Our Mother's Gardens and The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker in the hopes of uncovering how Alice Walker came into her own understanding regarding the relationship among the environment, the self, and community. This served as a catalyst for deeper insight into the offerings she makes towards healing, connection, and reclamation with the goal of gaining awareness of how those themes become apparent in her fiction.