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 current book project, Ecological States: The Politics of Urbanization and Sustainable Development 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, Fullbright-Hays DDRA, 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.
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 (2020) Land use Policy. doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.105107
China is the world's largest producer and consumer of seafood, with its Southern cities in particular cycling distant water catches from around the world. My current research project, Urban Oceans: Consumption, Conservation, Contested Sovereignties, traces the global reach of China's urban demand for highly valued and endangered oceanic life. In the wake of campaigns to limit consumption of shark fins in China, the consumption of fish maw, a dried fish organ from large species valued for medicinal, beautifying, and nutrient properties, has risen drastically. Linking the palettes of urban China with global oceans, this multi-sited and multi-methods project includes the first ever mitochondrial DNA test of fish maw, a dried fish organ prized for medicinal and nutritive properties, on the Hong Kong market. In addition to studying fish maw conservation efforts linked to market classification and consumer behavior in Hong Kong, this project also queries international conservation efforts and the political economy of deep water fisheries. This project aims to redefine the reach of the "urban" while centering China at the heart of global ocean governance and sustainability. For this project, I have partnered with WWF Hong Kong and the Therkildsen Conservation Genomics and Molecular Ecology Lab at Cornell University.
Jesse Rodenbiker. Urban Oceans, in Preparation for Environment and Planning D
Jesse Rodenbiker. Re-imagining One Health. Urban Oceanic Tastes and Narco-trading Endangered Animals. in Preparation for Global Environmental Change
Max Woodworth, Xuefei Ren, Jesse Rodenbiker, Ettori Santi, Yining Tan, Li Zhang, and Yu Zhou . Researching China During a Period of Covid-19 Travel Restrictions. Book Chapter in Preparation for COVID-19 and Emerging World of ad-hoc Geographies. Springer Publishing Stanley Brunn, Editor.
Global China and Asian Studies
I have a longstanding interest in the ways that area, place, and space come to be constituted historically and through daily practices, particularly in relation to global China. In 2018, I co-convened an interdisciplinary conference including scholars across the social science and humanities on themes related to area studies broadly and Asian studies. The description of the conference asked:
What is Asia? Since the evolution of Asian Studies out of its singular post-war focus on defining and understanding alterity, the field has grappled with this central question through an array of analytical frames: the nation-state, identity, culture, belief systems, economies, flows, and connectivity. This conference seeks to move area studies forward, beyond these analytic containers that have been used to explain how Asia comes to be constituted. To do so, the panels explore novel approaches to Placing Asia through place projections, temporalities, events, space, and professionalism.
Scholars who participated in this conference collectively engaged with a wide array of research materials that transected interdisciplinary and theoretical debates in effort to broaden the possibilities for how Asia can be studied and understood in global and regional contexts.
Publications Related to this Project:
Jesse Rodenbiker. Making Ecology Developmental: China's Environmental Sciences and Green Modernization in Global Context. (Forthcoming) Annals of the American Association of Geographers.
Jesse Rodenbiker. Our Global Ecological Future: China's Green Silk Road and 21st Century Environmental Governance. Book Chapter in Preparation for The Silk Road: Crafting Global Futures, Global Pasts. Routledge Publishing, Tim Winter, Editor.