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The Great Smog of China: A Short Event History of Air Pollution

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Non-members $12.80

ISBN: 9780924304927. 148 pages. Paperback

The Great Smog of China traces Chinese air pollution events dating back to more than 2,000 years ago. Based on the authors’ fieldwork, interviews and text studies, the book offers a short and concise history of selected air pollution incidents that for varying reasons prompted different kinds of responses and forms of engagement in Chinese society. The three authors, from the disciplines of anthropology, China studies and political science, identify traceable incidents of smog and air pollution that have been communicated in different media and came to impact society in various ways. This also informs a discussion of what it takes to transform people’s experiences of health and environmentally related risks of pollution into broader forms of socio-political agency.

About the Authors

Anna Lisa Ahlers leads the Lise Meitner Research Group “China in the Global System of Science” at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. Previously, she was associate professor in China studies at the University of Oslo. In recent years, she has worked on rural governance reforms and the urban “war against smog” in China, as well as the bipolarity of authoritarianism and democracy in the 21st century. Main publications include: Rural Policy Implementation in Contemporary China: New Socialist Countryside (2014), Democratic and Authoritarian Political Systems in 21st Century World Society (2020, with D. Krichewsky, E. Moser and R. Stichweh).

Mette Halskov Hansen is professor in China studies, University of Oslo. She has done research on minority education, ethnic identities, internal colonization, individualization and, most recently, (air) pollution and human agency in China. She is currently PI for a new collaborative project that explores spiritually inspired environmental movements in China, Taiwan and India, and their potential for generating local and global change. Main publications include: Lessons in Being Chinese (1999), Frontier People: Han Settlers in Ethnic Minority Areas of China (2005), iChina: The Rise of the Individual in Modern China (2010 with Svarverud), and Educating the Chinese Individual (2015).

Rune Svarverud is professor of China studies at the University of Oslo. Initially, Svarverud engaged with ancient Chinese philosophy and philological studies. Later, he shifted attentions towards the cultural, scientific, and intellectual transfer of ideas between China and the West. In recent years he has engaged with the history of environmental degradation and air pollution in China. Main publications include: Methods of the Way: Early Chinese Ethical Thought (1998), International Law as World Order in Late Imperial China: Translation, Reception and Discourse, 1847-1911 (2007), iChina: The Rise of the Individual in Modern China (2010 with Hansen).

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