Oscar L. Tang Family Professor of East Asian Studies Duke University


Date: 10 May, 2017 (Wednesday) Time: 1pm-2pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre University of Oxford China Centre Dickson Poon Building Canterbury Road, Oxford OX2 6LU

Re-Sacralizing the Landscape:
Asian Communities and a Sustainable Future

The crisis of global modernity has been produced by human overreach that was founded upon a paradigm of national modernization. Today, three global changes: the rise of non-western powers, the crisis of environmental sustainability and the loss of authoritative sources of transcendence – the ideals, principles and ethics once found in religions — define our condition. The physical salvation of the world is becoming the transcendent goal of our times, transcending national sovereignty. The foundations of sovereignty can no longer be sought in tunnelled histories of nations; we are recognizing that histories have always been circulatory and the planet is a collective responsibility.

I re-consider the values and resources in Asian traditions – particularly of China and India – that Max Weber found wanting in their capacity to achieve modernity. Several traditions in Asia, particularly in local communities, offer different ways of understanding the relationship between the self and nature. The idea of transcendence in these communities is more dialogical than radical or dualistic, i.e. where God or the human subject is separated from nature. Transnational civil society, NGOs, quasi-governmental and transnational agencies committed to the inviolability of the ‘commons’ as the fount of life are finding common cause with these precarious communities whose only means of resistance is often the sacred authority embedded in nature. Drawing on ideas of ‘emergence’, I suggest that, in the spaces of contact between the old and the new, there is a hopeful, if flickering, notion of the sacrality of nature.

This event is organised by CHEW (China’s Health, Environment, and Welfare) Research Group and is generously funded by the University of Oxford China Centre and Green Templeton College.


CHEW Conference 2017 – schedule


Contesting Modernisation:

The Future of Health, Environment, and Welfare in China


Conference Schedule



Venue: Lecture Theatre 1 – China Centre


10:30 – 10:45      Welcome speech


10:45 –  11:45     Keynote speech          Prof. Micah Muscolino

Professor of Chinese History, University of Oxford


 11:45 – 12:30     Lunch break


Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice


12:30               Dr Jennifer Holdaway

Co-Director, Forum on Health, Environment and Development, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford

Balancing Environmental and Social Justice: Implications of China’s Stronger Environmental Protection Policies for Rural-Urban Inequality.


12:45               Alexandra Foote

MSc graduate in Environment and Development, London School of Economics (LSE)

Community Based Ecotourism in the Tibetan Plateau

13:00               Chang Liu, PhD candidate in Chinese Studies, Jilin University Institute

Picking up the Fashionable Items from Transnational Waste: On Chinese Women’s Striving for Post-Revolutionary Chinese Femininity

13:15-13:30      Question time, chaired by Dr. Anna Lora-Wainwright


Environment and Modernity in Transitional China


13:30               Dr. Jan Erik Christensen, Independent Scholar

Confucian Philosophy, Education, and Ecological Sustainability.

13:45             Dr. Chaohua Wang, Independent Scholar

Societal Empowerment for a Better Future in China.

14:00             Coroline Goron, PhD Candiate in Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick

 ‘Ecological Civilization’ and the Continuation of Modernization Politics in China.

14:15-14:30    Question time, chaired by Rowan Alcock


    Coffee and Tea Break (14:30-15:00)

Activism and Grassroots Movements


15:00             Dr Nicholas Loubere, Associate Senior Lecturer in the Study of Modern China, Lund University

Microcredit, Modernity and Marginalisation in Rural China.

15:15              Suzanne Barber, PhD candidate in Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington

We Must Not Allow the Government to Shirk Responsibilities”: The Chinese Animal Rights Movement as a Question of Chinese Citizenship.

15:30               Li Zipeng, PhD Candidate in Chinese Studies, University of Edinburgh

Would the ‘Online Public Voice’ be Considered by the Chinese Government During the Environmental Crisis?

15:30-15:45     Question time, chaired by Irina Fedorenko  


Animals and Chinese environments

15:45               Dr. Kin Wing Chan, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Geography and Planning, University of Cardiff

The Preformative Eco-Friendly Farmers: Governmentality and Regulation of Animal Waste Practices in Hong Kong (1973-1997).

16:00               Alisha Gao

Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science with the Focus on Area Studies China/East Asia, Goethe University

Solving the Negative Externalities of Factory Farming in China.


16:15               Dr Thomas White, Teaching Associate in Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Patriotic camels and the Political Ecology of China’s Borderlands. 

16:30-16:45     Question time, chaired by Dr. Loretta Lou


Coffee and Tea Break (16:45-17:15)

17:15-18:15          Roundtable Discussion

18:15-18:45          Wine reception

19:00                   Conference Dinner at Zheng Restaurant