Dialogue on “An Ecological History of Modern China”
Oct 20 2023
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm GMT+1, Lisbon Time
Join Sci-Tech Asia for a discussion on the recent book by anthropologist Stevan Harrell entitled “An Ecological History of Modern China” (UWP, 2023).
Is environmental degradation an inevitable result of economic development? Can ecosystems be restored once government officials and the public are committed to doing so? These questions are at the heart of An Ecological History of Modern China, a comprehensive account of China’s transformation since the founding of the People’s Republic from the perspective not of the economy but of the biophysical world. Examples throughout illustrate how agricultural, industrial, and urban development have affected the resilience of China’s ecosystems—their ability to withstand disturbances and additional growth—and what this means for the country’s future.
Drawing on decades of research, Stevan Harrell demonstrates the local and global impacts of China’s miraculous rise. In clear and accessible prose, An Ecological History of Modern China untangles the paradoxes of development and questions the possibility of a future that is both prosperous and sustainable. It is a critical resource for students, scholars, and general readers interested in environmental change, Chinese history, and sustainable development.
Invited Speakers (in alphabetic order)
Andrea E. Pia (London School of Economics)
Andrea E. Pia is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of Cutting the Massline: Moving Water and the Political in Southwest China (JHUP, 2024) and one of the editors of the Open Access Journal Made in China.
Francesca Bray (University of Edinburgh)
Francesca Bray is a historian of agriculture, and of science, technology and medicine in pre-modern China. Her first book, the Agriculture volume in Joseph Needham’s series Science and Civilisation in China, was published in 1984. Her latest book, Moving Crops and the Scales of History (co-authored with Barbara Hahn, John Bosco Lourdusamy and Tiago Saraiva), came out earlier this year.
Gonçalo Santos (University of Coimbra) — Chair and Moderator
Gonçalo Santos is an anthropologist and STS scholar, specializing in China and in the study of the history of anthropology. He is currently an auxiliary professor of socio-cultural anthropology in the Department of Life Sciences, and a Researcher and Group Coordinator in the Research Center for Anthropology and Health (CIAS), at the University of Coimbra. He is the author of Chinese Village Life Today (2021) and the co-editor of Transforming Patriarchy (2017). He is the founder and the director of the international research network Sci-Tech Asia.
Mette Halskov Hansen (University of Oslo)
Mette Halskov Hansen is professor in China studies at the University of Oslo. She has done research in China since late 1986 on ethnic relations, education, individualization and, most recently, the human/social impacts of environmental degradation and climate change. She directed Airborne, an interdisciplinary project about human dimensions of air pollution in China, and in 2021 she started up Transcendence and Sustainability: Asian Vision with Global Promise together with colleagues in India, China and Norway. Publications relevant to the topic of climate and environment in China include, for instance, a special issue of The China Quarterly on air pollution (2017) and the book The Great Smog of China: A Short Event History of Air Pollution (Columbia University Press 2020, co-authored with Anna Ahlers and Rune Svarverud).
Stevan Harrell (University of Washington) — Author
Stevan Harrell is an ethnographer and interdisciplinary environmental researcher, specializing in Taiwan, China, and the Pacific Northwest of North America. He is professor emeritus of anthropology and environmental and forest sciences at the University of Washington. His many books include Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China (UWP, 2002).