Fellows in the News

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.

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