Ecological States: Politics of Sustainable Urbanization in China
China's recent central state mandate to transform 20% of urban land into urban ecological protection areas precipitated one of the largest urban-agrarian transformation on earth. My first book project, Ecological States: Politics of Sustainable Urbanization in China, traces the roots of environmental land classification policies through the global interconnections of China's premier ecologists. These ecologists shaped the state's green modernization campaigns, which are collectively referred to as "ecological civilization building." Alongside this environmental genealogy, I illustrate how comprehensive urban-rural planning, emerging from this modernization platform, extends the reach of the municipal state through green governance relations that intersect with state-private interests. Uneven valuations of village land and housing shape the politics of displacement and livelihood transition for villagers incorporated into urban conservation projects. This project is based on mixed methods and multi-sited research in three cities of Southwest China from 2014-2018 that included government officials, environmental scientists, villagers, resettlement complex migrants, and archives. This research has been supported by the Chiang-Ching Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, the Fulbright Association, the Institute for International Studies, and the Social Science Research Council, among others. I maintain ongoing research collaborations related to this project with Sichuan University's School of Public Administration and Land Resources.
Publications Related to this Project: Book Jesse Rodenbiker. (Forthcoming). Ecological States: Politics of Science and Nature in Urbanizing China. Ithaca, NY. Cornell University Press.
Runqiu Liu, Jian Jiang, Chao Yu, Jesse Rodenbiker, and Yongmu Jiang. The Endowment Effect Accompanying Villagers' Withdrawal from Rural Homesteads: Field Evidence from Chengdu, China (2021) Land Use Policy. 105107.
Jesse Rodenbiker. A Political Ecology of Conservation Planning in Municipal Regions. in preparation for Fulong Wu and Fangzhu Zhang (Eds.) Handbook on China's Urban Environmental Governance. London. Edward Elgar Press.
My second project, Urban Oceans, traces the relationship between urban consumption of ocean wildlife. I trace the sprawling contours of tastes, sovereignty, and environmental governance surrounding ocean wildlife. My research links palettes of urban China with global trading networks, labor on the high seas and U.S. Mid-Atlantic fisheries, and politics of taste in Hong Kong and New York City. The project aims to redefine the sociospatial character of the "urban" while centering China at the heart of global ocean governance and sustainable futures. For this project, I have partnered with WWF Hong Kong and the Therkildsen Conservation Genomics and Molecular Ecology Lab at Cornell University. Additionally, I founded the Sustainable Maritime China Lab at Cornell University, which provides opportunities and training for students to conduct research.
Max Woodworth, Xuefei Ren, Jesse Rodenbiker, Ettori Santi, Yining Tan, Li Zhang, and Yu Zhou . Researching China During the Covid-19 Pandemic. (Forthcoming) in Ed. Stanlye Brunn, COVID-19 and Emerging World of ad-hoc Geographies. Springer Publishing.
Jesse Rodenbiker. Nina Overgaard Therkildsen, Cheong Chun Li*. Global Shark Fins in Local Contexts: Hong Kong Markets and U.S. Mid-Atlantic Artisanal Fisheries. Under Review.
Jesse Rodenbiker, Nina Overgaard Therkildsen, Erica Ruan*, Kelly Su*. Advancing One Health in Urban Seafood Markets: A Genetic Survey of Dried Seafood in Three New York City Chinatown Boroughs. in Preparation.
* Denotes Lab Member and Student Advisee
Ecological Civilization Goes Global
My third project, Ecological Civilization Goes Global, considers China's conservation and development policies in global contexts. During 2021 and 2022, China hosted the 15th United Nations Biodiversity Conference, which was themed "Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth." Ecological civilization building has been the Chinese state's way to differentiate socialist sustainable development from the West. It is now being mobilized to shape the United Nations' global conservation agenda for the next 30 years. In international conservation venues, ecological civilization building projects a global sustainable development trajectory. In this project, I consider how China-led conservation planning partnerships and green BRI initiatives are transforming environmental governance globally, particularly in Global South partner countries.