Is environmental degradation an inevitable result of economic development? Can ecosystems be restored once government officials and the public are committed to doing so? These questions are at the heart of An Ecological History of Modern China, a comprehensive account of China’s transformation since the founding of the People’s Republic from the perspective not of the economy but of the biophysical world. Examples throughout illustrate how agricultural, industrial, and urban development have affected the resilience of China’s ecosystems—their ability to withstand disturbances and additional growth—and what this means for the country’s future.
New Book Announcement: “Sinophone Utopias: Exploring Futures Beyond the China Dream” by Andrea Riemenschnitter, Jessica Imbach, and Justyna Jaguscik
Focusing on counter-narratives that challenge or undermine the grand nationalist Chinese theme, this book studies the ways Sinophone artists, writers, and other cultural agents reimagine a future (world) society that can be more tolerant of cultural, ecological, ethnic, gender and ideological diversity.
New Book Announcement: “Plato Goes to China: The Greek Classics and Chinese Nationalism” by Shadi Bartsch
As improbable as it may sound, an illuminating way to understand today’s China and how it views the West is to look at the astonishing ways Chinese intellectuals are interpreting—or is it misinterpreting?—the Greek classics. In Plato Goes to China, Shadi Bartsch offers a provocative look at Chinese politics and ideology by exploring Chinese readings of Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, and other ancient writers. She shows how Chinese thinkers have dramatically recast the Greek classics to support China’s political agenda, diagnose the ills of the West, and assert the superiority of China’s own Confucian classical tradition.
“Islands and Cultures: How Pacific Islands Provide Paths toward Sustainability” by Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Te Maire Tau and Peter M Vitousek
It helps to come to Islands & Cultures—a collection of essays focusing largely if not exclusively, as goes the subtitle, on “sustainability”—with at least some background on Polynesia, not because such background is necessary to follow the arguments in the various papers, but because otherwise one will be spending a great deal of time on the Internet chasing down one interesting reference after another.
It can be easy to think of colonies as having two populations: colonial subjects, and colonial overlords from Europe. It’s an easy narrative: one has power, status and privilege, the other does not. But in practice, European colonies created many populations in-between: groups who benefited from imperial power, yet not one of the elite.
New Book Announcement: “Waves of Upheaval in Myanmar: Gendered Transformations and Political Transitions”, edited by Jenny Hedström and Elisabeth Olivius
This is the first comprehensive account of the multifaceted processes of gendered transformation that took place in Myanmar between 2011 and 2021, and which continues to shape events today. The period began with the end of direct military rule and the transition to a hybrid, semi-democratic regime, precipitating far-reaching political, economic and social changes across Myanmar. To date, the gendered dynamics and effects of this transition have not yet received sustained scholarly attention.
New Book Announcement: “The Journey of Hindi Language Journalism in India: From Raj to Swaraj and Beyond” by Mrinal Pande
In India, the English-language media is considered the “national media”, while vernacular media remains “regional”. However, from the 1980s onwards, demographic changes and growth in literacy in the Hindi heartland broadened the market for Hindi newspapers.