Chapter 44: Political ecology in and of China
Ecological modernization narratives and long lists of dire statistics dominate both scholarly work on and popular understandings of human–environment relationships in China. Political ecology offers a powerful alternative framework to conceptualize the environment as shaped by political economy, power and politics rather than being primarily a technical matter. This chapter reviews key themes in political ecological scholarship work on China to date, including debates about the effects of de-collectivization and market reform on agrarian and pastoral environments; protected areas as well as urban ‘greening’ efforts as forms of dispossession and capital accumulation; analysis of why industrial pollution persists despite public awareness; hydropower; and environmental activism. China’s particular place in the world economy and geopolitical order suggests a number of contributions that further study can make to political ecology more generally. At the same time, the chapter explores why Chinese-language scholarship on political ecology today remains relatively limited.
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