ChinaTalks lecture: China Goes Green - Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet

Together with Roskilde University, we are very happy to be hosting Judith Shapiro from American University in Washington, DC and Yifei Li of NYU Shanghai for a ChinaTalks lecture on how China's strategy for going green also promotes other agendas of the Chinese state.

Abstract

What does it mean for the future of the planet when one of the world’s most durable authoritarian governance systems pursues “ecological civilization”? Despite its staggering pollution and colossal appetite for resources, China exemplifies a model of state-led environmentalism which concentrates decisive political, economic, and epistemic power under centralized leadership. On the face of it, China seems to embody hope for a radical new approach to environmental governance.  In this keynote, the authors probe the concrete mechanisms of China’s coercive environmentalism to show how "going green" helps the state to further other agendas such as citizen surveillance and geopolitical influence.

Through top-down initiatives, regulations, and campaigns to mitigate pollution and environmental degradation, the Chinese authorities also promote control over the behavior of individuals and enterprises, pacification of borderlands, and expansion of Chinese power and influence along the Belt and Road and even into the global commons. Given the limited time that remains to mitigate climate change and protect millions of species from extinction, we need to consider whether a green authoritarianism can show us the way and what are its promises and risks.

Short bio: Speakers

Judith Shapiro is Director of the Masters in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development for the School of International Service at American University and Chair of the Global Environmental Politics program. She was one of the first Americans to live in China after U.S.-China relations were normalized in 1979. She is the author, co-author or editor of nine books, including (with Yifei Li) China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet (Polity 2020), China’s Environmental Challenges (Polity 2016), and Mao’s War against Nature (Cambridge University Press 2001), among others. Prof. Shapiro earned her Ph.D. from American University’s School of International Service. She holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and another M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Her B.A. from Princeton University is in Anthropology and East Asian Studies.

Yifei Li is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at NYU Shanghai and Global Network Assistant Professor at NYU. His research concerns both the macro-level implications of Chinese environmental governance for state-society relations, marginalized populations, and global ecological sustainability, as well as the micro-level bureaucratic processes of China’s state interventions into the environmental realm. He is coauthor (with Judith Shapiro) of China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet. His recent work appears in Current SociologyInternational Journal of Urban and Regional ResearchEnvironmental SociologyJournal of Environmental Management, and other scholarly outlets. He received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Bachelor’s from Fudan University.

Practical information

Date and time: April 29h, 14:00 - 15:30

Location: Zoom - Please sign up here