Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Conference ─ Recasting the Rural: China's Transformation in a Global Context

Thursday, February 12, 2015

9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

Free registration is required.  Please register here.  You may attend one or all panel discussions.

Event recap

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Is rural China dying? The recent redoubling of the Chinese state’s efforts to shift rural people to urban areas seems to confirm what many have sensed: that, at the head of a worldwide urbanizing surge, China is leaving its agrarian legacy behind. Rural communities seem fated to depopulate, while industrial farms, concentrated animal feeding operations, and tree plantations will replace the family farms that once underpinned China’s economy and culture. Watchers are spellbound by urbanization that seems a fait accompli.

Yet, in China as elsewhere, the rural persists, and China’s authorities continue to be preoccupied with rural social and environmental concerns. State pronouncements picture rural areas as suffused with crises, from housing and livelihoods to food safety hazards, industrial and agricultural pollution, from the loss of farmland to soil erosion, overgrazing, desertification, soil pollution, flood risk, and sandstorms.

Drawing connections with processes of rural-urban transformation in India and Latin America, this conference examines how Chinese State agencies are recasting the role of rural populations and environments.


9:30-10:00 Introduction

  Emily Yeh, Associate Professor of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder

10:00-11:30 Panel 1:  Between Integration and Absorption: Re-planning China's Villages

  John Zinda, Chair,Voss Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown University 

  Jia-Ching Chen, Visiting Scholar in Sociology, Brown University : The Environmentalization of Village Land Management

  Julia Chuang, Watson Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown University : China’s ‘New Socialist Countryside’: Egalitarian or Predatory?

  Jessica Wilczak,  PhD Candidate in Geography, University of Toronto : The "Scientific" Master Planning of China’s Rural Space

  Qian Forrest Zhang, Associate Professor of Sociology, Singapore Management University : "Cashing in on Land": Land Financing of Rural          Reconstruction

11:30-12:15 Lunch

12:15-1:45 Panel 2:  Between Production and Protection: Environmental Governance in China's Rural Landscapes

  Jia-Ching Chen, Chair, Visiting Scholar in Sociology, Brown University

  Mindi Schneider, Assistant Professor, International Institute of Social Studies : Wasting the Rural: Meat, Manure, and the Politics of  Agroindustrialization in Contemporary China

  John Zinda, Voss Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown University : Remaking Rural Landscapes with Forests, Protected Areas, and Red Lines

  Emily Yeh, Associate Professor of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder : The Politics of Climate Adaptation in Chinese Rangeland        Conservation

  Max Woodworth, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University : The Making of an Energy Resource Frontier in Ordos, Inner Mongolia

1:45-2:00 Break

2:00-3:45 Panel 3: Wither the Rural? China's Transformation in a Global Context

  Emily Yeh, Chair, Associate Professor of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder : The Politics of Climate Adaptation in Chinese Rangeland   Conservation

  Gautam Bhan, Senior Consultant, Indian Institute for Human Settlements : The Politics of Urban Environmental Governance through the Lens of   India

  Leah VanWey, Associate Professor of Sociology, Senior Deputy Director of Research at the Institute for the Study of Environment and Society,   Brown University : Recent Rural Land Transformations in Brazil

  Daniel Buck, Associate Professor of Geography, University of Oregon : Global Rural-Urban Relationships through the lens of China

3:45-4:00 Closing

China Initiative