Chapter One: Introduction
In the space of forty years, the People's Republic of China (PRC) went from being a harsh critic of Western environmentalism to what some see as an international vanguard, an "environmental state" (Lang 2002). In 1972, Chinese delegates in Stockholm, at the world's first international conference on the environment, refused to sign global legislation, stating that pollution was a product of capitalism, not socialism (Tang 1972). By 2002, however, many outsiders praised the Chinese government's powerful and wide-sweeping environmental laws in rural areas.i China enforced the world's largest logging ban, converted massive areas of agricultural and grazing lands to forest, and confiscated hundreds of thousands of guns as part of increasingly strict laws against hunting. The state is not the only actor; popular protests, now amounting to over 100,000 events a year, are increasingly expressed in environmental idioms, and citizens rally to decry air and water pollution, as well as their relocation from massive dam projects (Economy 2004, Mertha 2008). Citizen complaints to the government about environmental issues rose ten fold between 1999 and 2009 (Moore 2009). A number of outsiders now describe China (using metaphors common a century ago) as "awakened" to the environment, and regard this as an inevitable result of globalization.
Does China's recent attention to the environment demonstrate that, as the world is increasingly connected through globalization, all places are becoming more alike? Globalization is often thought to describe a "world becoming more uniform and standardized, through a technological, commercial, and cultural synchronization emanating from the West" (Nederveen Pieterse 1995:45). Many hold the related belief, expressed by the best-selling author Thomas Friedman, that "the world is now flat," as people everywhere have access to ideas, connections, and opportunities created by global systems such as the Internet (2006). Most accounts of globalization take a bird's-eye perspective, which focuses on overall political trends or flows of global capital (Steger 2004). By looking closely at a social field like environmentalism, and how it is playing out on the ground in one of China's most active regions-the southwest's Yunnan Province-this book offers a different interpretation.
This study of China's environmental politics provides a way to think differently about globalization, and in particular globalized formations. I use this term "globalized formations" where others might use the more common yet narrower term "social movements." The most common image of a "social movement" is a street-based rally, where people fight to transform state policy, such as creating new civil rights laws. I use globalized formations, however, to signal my interest in a broader constellation of social acts and spaces than what is often understood as a movement, which is often understood as a more temporally and socially discrete set of events towards specific goals (Givan et al. 2010). My subject is to explore how new sensibilities are taken up, fought against, and transformed among a wider public. Examples of globalized formations include movements around gay, indigenous, and women's rights.ii My analysis of globalized formations emphasizes the critical role played by ordinary people in what I refer to as "making the global."
My understanding of these processes has been shaped by my extensive and ongoing engagements with many people in Yunnan Province, where in 1995 I worked, lived, and conducted research. I use oral histories, interviews, and archival research to take us back to the beginnings of international conservation efforts starting in 1986, when representatives of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) first came to inspect Yunnan's tropical rainforests and search for China's last herds of wild elephants. I explore the subsequent two-and-a-half decades as Yunnan went from being a relatively unknown site for nature conservation to becoming a prominent and influential place for global environmentalism. By 2011, Yunnan was well known for its wide range of habitats, from lowland rainforests to rugged Himalayan peaks. It is highly mountainous and contains the headwaters of some of Asia's great rivers: the Yangtze (Chang Jiang), Mekong (Lancang), and Salween (Nu). It joined the list of the world's "biodiversity hotspots" and is now claimed as "arguably the most botanically rich temperate region in the world" (He and Li 2011). Dozens of international NGOs, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank are deeply involved in trying to shape the management of these landscapes. Many would argue that Yunnan's inclusion within international conservation networks seems to provide evidence that globalization has flowed to even the most remote places.
Indeed, when I arrived in Yunnan in 1995, I, too, understood environmentalism as a global flow that originated in the West and was now spreading throughout China, propagated by groups like WWF. When I started to teach at a forestry college, I found that my first-year students were often puzzled over what "environmentalism" meant. As I learned more about China's history, I began to understand why this might be the case. I grew up in the United States during what some called an environmental revolution, as exemplified by the world's first Earth Day in New York City in 1970. I was influenced by the legacies of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Dave Foreman of Earth First!, a radical pro-wilderness environmental group. By high school, I was a passionate environmentalist and worked on several campaigns to raise money to save tropical rainforests. Yet in 1970, China was in the midst of its own revolution, the Cultural Revolution, and some cities became combat zones where young Red Guards fought each other with grenades and tanks. Some of my students in Kunming were born in 1976, the year Mao Zedong died and the Cultural Revolution ended, and raised after China's massive market reforms started in 1978. They had heard of environmentalism, but were not quite sure what it really meant, unlike their teachers, who, I found out, had been engaging with it for years.
These teachers, Chinese scientists who were also my colleagues, referred to the rise of environmentalism as a wind (feng), and specifically as the "environmental winds" (huanjing feng), and it became clear that they were not simply accommodating global environmentalism as advocated by WWF.iii Instead, they were actively reshaping these winds conceptually and in relation to China's unique history.
The concept of the environmental wind was different from how I had previously come to understand the ways globalization works, particularly with respect to the metaphor of flows. When people speak of globalization as a flow, it suggests a force that emerges and spreads without human agency. In contrast, the Chinese view of winds as social formations, made and maintained by people, offered me a different perspective on how globalization happens. Through many discussions I had in Yunnan, it became increasingly clear that winds do not simply impact people; they are made, shaped, and transformed by people. The more I thought about their perspective on winds, the more I believed that it offered a different, more radical view of what we understand as globalization-one that moves us away from seeing it as a force that emerges by itself or is created solely through the efforts of a few powerful individuals and corporations, a "conspiracy of the rich." Rather, many people, from rural small-scale farmers to government officials, shape and make the global, but not necessarily with the same intent, capacity, or outcomes.
I also found the notion of winds an intriguing concept for thinking about power and the ways that groups can be forged and inspired by new political possibilities. Many analysts of China, from academics to journalists, regard politics and power as a top-down imposition, which ignores the ways diverse groups of people become caught up within new social formations. The metaphor of winds suggests that we cannot know what happens by only studying Beijing's political proclamations; instead it brings us into the lives of Chinese experts, rural activists, expatriate conservationists, local leaders, and all those who have a stake in what happens next. When winds are powerful, there are those who live in the full force of this power, those who live in the eddies, and everyone in between; but all are shaped by, and all are themselves shaping, the winds, regardless of their intentions.
Before I arrived in China, my readings in the social sciences prompted me to anticipate that rural peoples in the Global South, and particularly those described as indigenous peoples, were fundamentally resistant to external forces such as state mandates and global impositions. The notion of winds also challenged my expectations that rural people aim to live autonomous lives, people who strive to be free of interference from both state and global forces. The idea of winds refuses such schemes of fixed responses and clean divisions between local and global, and encourages us to look at how a range of people, including both urban experts and rural villagers, engage with forces in diverse and creative ways.
I also was interested in the dialogic and transformative aspect of winds. Like physical winds moving through a landscape, the movement of social winds is iterative; the social landscape is constantly shaped by and shaping the movement and power of the winds. When millions of people actively embraced China's Cultural Revolution-attending rallies, reading Mao's Little Red Book, traveling across the nation, and joining the Red Guards-this buoyed its strength. When others began to refuse some pervasive elements of the time, such as Red Guard groups who organized to oppose the rampant physical violence, for example, these actions affected the force and qualities of the winds.
This metaphor of wind is not uncommon in China. Many elderly people described their lives as a dizzying series of winds-"Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom," the "Great Leap Forward," the "Cultural Revolution," and the "Opening of China." They described these changes as shifting winds rather than as concrete and predictable stages: things were quick to change, powerful, and then with little explanation gone but with ramifying and lingering effects. I was taught other words that describe situations similar, but different than a feng. The related term re (literally "hot," but figuratively a "fever") describes a situation closer to the English equivalent of fad or fashion, which can be a large-scale social phenomenon, but is often less all-encompassing, and feels quickly fleeting. The term yundong (mass campaign) describes government-led campaigns with discrete beginnings and endings that may not sweep people up. Feng, instead, refers to times of more diffuse, but still notable, changes that are deeply felt engagements. I build on this latter sensibility, as winds are not just terms for political events, but structures of feeling that change what it means to live in the moment and create lingering effects.
After weathering these winds for years, many people said they had cultivated a heightened attention to detect shifting winds on the horizon. Their stories were full of accounts of trying to position themselves and their families to avoid the political purges and dangers that a wind like the Cultural Revolution could bring.iv A wind could not only bring about threats, it could also provide potential advantages, depending on how one acted. Many people seemed alert to new winds, knowing that they were fleeting, rather than permanent. A wind often started with little notice, and some rapidly became powerful. Just as quickly, a wind could change course or dissipate.
Let me provide another example of powerful winds that shaped Chinese history, winds that quite strongly shaped natural landscapes as well as social ones. The Great Leap Forward (1957-1961) swept up millions of Chinese in enthusiastic all-out efforts to create backyard steel furnaces in order to quickly overtake England in steel production. Throughout the countryside, peasants scoured the land for iron ore and cut down millions of trees to fuel these furnaces, in some places leaving a wasteland of stumps. At the same time, they built a massive infrastructure of over 40,000 reservoirs and canals, significantly expanding the country's potential for agricultural irrigation.v Large-scale agricultural communes were quickly amalgamated, and leaders competed to produce previously unheard of levels of grain. In the midst of this rush to build socialism, things went seriously awry: grain yields were vastly exaggerated, large quantities of grain were siphoned off to feed city residents, and peasants neglected their fields, resulting in the world's largest human-caused famine. Approximately 30 million people died, and although estimates vary substantially, the vast majority of those that starved were rural farmers who lacked sufficient access to their own crops (Yang 1998, Thaxton 2008). The legacies associated with these winds are still felt as China continues to be powerfully shaped by the Great Leap's enduring ecological, cultural, and social effects, many of which are strongly debated today.
In China, the idiom of "winds" has been used mainly to describe changes at local and national levels (like the Great Leap). I extend this concept to help us examine social change at broader scales-in this case, how the globalized formation of environmentalism is made and remade as it travels around the world. The ways that globalized formations work out in any place are strongly mediated by historical legacies and social landscapes. In Africa, for example, current forms of environmentalism engage with a legacy where nature conservation has been a key area of European colonial intervention, and conservation remains more racialized and militarized in Africa than in any other region in the world. In China's case, specific Cold War tensions with the United States inflect how its government works with American organizations. This points to how "global" interactions can be more insightfully understood as particular transnational articulations. As well, globalized efforts are shaped both by how the Chinese state actually operates as well as how many foreigners view the Chinese state. Winds provide a way to think about how such formations come into being, and how they are reciprocally re-made through a study of particular encounters and interactions.
While environmentalism was not nearly as powerful as the Great Leap, starting in the 1980s this wind blew through Yunnan during a time of considerable social change.vi In the beginning, many people, from high-level officials to college students to remote rural villagers, began to mull over this term huanjing (environment/ environmental), which was gaining in prominence and power. It formed an umbrella concept covering both older interests in soil erosion and water conservation and newer concerns about urban pollution and biodiversity conservation. By the 1990s, millions of hectares were designated as nature reserves and fragile upland watersheds; millions of dollars were spent to guard such reserves against local farmers, now regarded as threatening the land with their hoes, guns, and cows.
But as many understood, winds change, and by the 1990s, a number of people, including some Chinese scientists and expatriate conservationists, began to challenge strict forms of nature conservation. They suggested that villagers should not be viewed as environmental adversaries, but should be enlisted as communities to participate as partners, or at least stakeholders. Furthermore, they argued that some of these communities were not made up of peasants but of indigenous people who possessed "indigenous knowledge" and "sacred forests" and were entitled to special rights under international law. Although this contradicted Beijing's insistence that all Chinese were equally indigenous, and that no one in China deserved special rights, this community orientation nonetheless opened new spaces for differentiating between rural communities on the basis of indigeneity. It also unexpectedly provided scientists with a way of challenging mainstream development and conservation initiatives. These dynamics did not unfold simply as an extension of winds blowing from the West; they emerged out of unique histories and relationships among social groups, between people and nature, and between Chinese citizens and the state. This book explores how these winds caught people up and how people, places, and the winds themselves were changed unexpectedly in the process. It brings us into the lives of those individuals who not only encountered environmentalism, but brought it into being in China. By exploring how these winds gained force and shaped Yunnan's social landscapes, this book addresses larger questions about how people in China, and elsewhere, are making the global.
Wildlands and wildlife in the PRC before the environmental winds (1950s-1980s)
When environmental laws were first being made and enforced in Southwest Chinavii in the 1980s, they were particularly striking because such frameworks were so unfamiliar.viii There were few legacies of restrictive nature conservation laws.ix A brief tour through China before the environmental winds is instructive. In the mid-1950s, there was a short-lived opening when biologists successfully lobbied to create nature reserves, but such efforts were largely abandoned within the decade. At that time, the entire country became swept up in campaigns, like the Great Leap, that encouraged the rapid expansion of agricultural lands-a process referred to as "opening wastelands" (kai huangdi). These campaigns intensified after famines in the early 1960s: officials exhorted rural Chinese commune members to clear forests, plow grasslands, and drain swamps to convert them into fields of grain. The slogan "Learn from Dazhai"-a model commune that tirelessly converted sloping hills into irrigated, terraced fields-was promoted and widely emulated. In southern Yunnan, thousands of youth from urban China came to slash and burn tropical rainforests and replace them with vast plantations of rubber and tea.
Official attitudes towards animals during this time were basically utilitarian. Except for a few species that earned state protection, such as the panda bear, many animals were freely hunted, used for people's own sustenance or turned into state goods. For example, China's top ornithologists, often trained abroad, were asked to determine which birds were farmers' "friends" or "enemies." China's most famous engagement with birds was called the "Destroy the Four Pests Campaign" (rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows), started during the famine in 1960. In cities, crowds of people gathered, chasing flocks of sparrows from branch to branch, yelling and banging pots and pans. The exhausted birds fell from the sky, and were collected by organized groups, who also tallied the bodies of the other "pests" brought to them. Later, scientists argued that sparrows ate crop-damaging insects, and the sparrows were re-labeled as "friends" not "enemies," and removed from the list of pests. These accounts, which moralize the past through reference to ecology, are now commonplace in China and abroad as a way to invoke the tragedies of the Mao era.x
In the 1950s, biologists published a series of books, intended for commune leaders, to guide farmers in wild animals and their "rational exploitation" (heli kaifa,a term with a positive connotation). Some birds, such as the Black Necked Crane, historically considered sacred in China (Matthiessen 2001), were killed for their down feathers, which were sorted into three grades and mainly shipped abroad.xi Biologists were sent to explore western China, most of which remained a great unknown to those based in Beijing. Waves of experts, including geologists, linguists, anthropologists, and biologists were sent to map, classify, and develop rural areas economically and politically (Kinzley 2012, Fei 1980).
By the early 1980s, during China's "Reform and Opening Up" (gaige kaifang) period, officials dismantled communes and divided up agricultural and forestlands among families, for the first time in over a generation. It was hard, though, for people to put much faith in the permanence of such land divisions after a history of tumultuous change: for example, the ownership of trees had officially changed hands up to seven times in the previous decades (Liu 2001). This transition period stimulated what is sometimes called the third of the "Three Great Cuttings" (san da fa) of trees, after the Great Leap Forward and during the Cultural Revolution (Hyde et al. 2003). Villagers built new houses, stockpiled lumber in ponds, and sold standing forests to entrepreneurs who sprung up in the new cracks that opened in the state-controlled economy.xii
When the government began enforcing environmental laws in the late 1980s, villagers often regarded these changes with a mixture of shock and resignation. The laws greatly restricted villagers' capacity to farm, hunt, collect firewood and take care of their animals (sheep, cows, goats, pigs, mules, yak, and horses), by taking them to graze, collecting wild foods and gathering bedding material for their pen, such as pine needles and oak leaves. Together, these tasks formed the core of the vast majority of rural people's livelihoods, providing goods for self-provisioning and the market. Many had few alternatives for supplementing household income, as opportunities for paid work were rare. Moreover, villagers were shocked to find that the new law positioned them as criminals. For decades, they had been regarded as China's vanguard, the key force of socialist revolution, and the providers of critical grain supplies. They had followed patriotic mandates to build rural China into a land of productive agriculture, and now these landscapes were being dismantled or abandoned for reasons that were often unclear. Even worse, such rules turned them even further from their status as China's revolutionary masses (geming qunzhong), a position that they had already largely lost by the early 1980s, when China turned away from socialist orientations towards a market economy. The new regulations were part of a growing official and urban view that rural people were the presumed enemies of wild animals, forests, grasslands, and wetlands, all of which were now protected by state employees (Williams 2002).
Environmentalism in China acted more as winds blowing through an intensely variegated landscape than a singular, homogenous flow that submerged local differences. As drastic as these changes seemed to me, many said that this was the condition of life -these environmental regulations were just another in a series of powerful and yet unpredictable winds. Once when I was asking a woman about her labors during the Great Leap Forward, her thirty-something daughter piped in, both serious and joking, "You see how quickly things change? We might as well make use of our family fields. Who knows, next year, maybe we'll go back to communes?" Such regulations were enforced in a highly uneven manner, so that people in cities and regions devoted to high-yielding paddy rice agriculture often experienced few environmental constraints. For those living in places regarded as ecologically valuable, and especially places designated as nature reserves, however, these laws could be quite powerful.xiii
Yet by the late 1990s, China started to enact forceful policies that covered vast areas, precipitated after the Yangtze River flooded its banks in 1998, devastating a huge region of 25 million hectares and killing thousands (Lang 2002).xiv Chinese officials blamed upstream logging, farming, and grazing for causing the catastrophe, and in response, started to ban agriculture on slopes greater than a 25 degree angle throughout the massive uplands watershed of the Yangtze River, an area more than twice the size of California.
This policy was especially harsh for farmers in Yunnan, who often plant crops on steep slopes in a province that is 95% mountainous. The ban also wreaked havoc for local governments, some of which earned 80 percent of their revenues from taxes on logging. These local governments, cut off from logging revenues, struggled to find new sources of income, such as promoting eco-tourism or hunting wild matsutake mushrooms for export to Japan. Villagers were told to stop farming sloping lands, restore grasslands, and plant trees. Engineers were hired to break dikes and restore wetlands, destroying families' fields and crops. A hunting ban was followed by a large-scale campaign to confiscate guns throughout western China. Villagers who I lived with were deeply impacted by losing their guns, which had been a critical part of everyday life for over a century. They had relied on guns to hunt, protect themselves against bandits, and scare away crop-raiding animals (including elephants). Indeed, some upland families credited their guns with keeping them alive during the Great Leap Forward famine by making it possible for them to live on wild game meat. It is thus not surprising that handing over their guns to the police was felt even more intensely than other laws that restricted their use of forests for planting crops or gathering fuelwood.
Shifting winds: The community-based approach and the rise of indigeneity
By the late 1990s, a number of experts, conservationists, and development staff had begun to challenge such a hard-line position, and advocate for working with communities in ways that appreciate their knowledge and, to some degree, promote their rights. This new approach was not always embraced,xv but it provided new techniques, trainings, and funding packages, as well as a critical vocabulary and webs of support. It created new opportunities for social scientists to work together with natural scientists, foresters, and development agents; to visit villages and build new networks, such as community forestry associations; to forge links between rural villages and urban centers, and between people in China and throughout the world. Yunnan, in fact, became an early leader in China's experiments with community-based techniques, and it produced several activists who later challenged international conservation NGOs working in Yunnan that were slow or inconsistent in applying a social justice framework. Kunming was becoming one of China's centers for international conferences on environmental topics, and a major site of translation between foreign and Chinese agendas, and many livelihoods began to depend on these relations.
The overall change was dramatic. Those who followed new community-based models of development saw local people as holding knowledge and experience that made them valuable partners for development experts.xvi The larger aim was often to recognize communities' history of land use and build collaborative relationships. This involved de-criminalizing, legitimizing, and even encouraging some practices that had been frowned upon during the period of strict conservation, such as the collection of herbs and mushrooms from state-claimed forest lands.
As well, many others promoted "social forestry," which transferred forests' management from state control to villages. Whereas earlier models assumed that villagers' ecologically damaging practices arose from ignorance, development workers influenced by community-based sensibilities searched instead for what was referred to as indigenous or local knowledge. Such transformations in how nature conservation was carried out were not just happening in China, but were part of a vast international shift. It would be easy to interpret this as just another instance of the flow of Western trends. However, I show how such changes did not result from a paradigm shift invented in Western headquarters, but they arose and were motivated by the cumulative experiences of millions of people who were affected by conservation efforts, both rural villagers and urban experts, including those in Yunnan. These cumulative experiences were generated by the struggles between field staff and villagers in implementing a hard-line, strict conservation approach. The many tensions that arose attracted the attention of an increasing number of critics, both inside and outside conservation organizations.xvii Critics described this strict approach as "coercive conservation" (Peluso 1993) and argued that such practices were not only socially and morally unjust, but actually undermined effective conservation in the long run (Peet and Watts 1996, West and Brechin 1991, Brockington and Igoe 2006).xviii
Initially I thought that this new community-based perspective represented a paradigm shift, both because the growing strength of that perspective seemed to insure its dominance, and because its conceptions of nature, local people, and governance were so different from earlier approaches. Yet it became increasingly clear, both in academic and policy debates, as well as through my own observation of environmental politics in China, that a community perspective did not completely displace earlier winds that were informed by coercive conservationxix-just as the environmental winds themselves had not totally replaced earlier mandates to expand and modernize agriculture. Thus, I began to see the changes that have occurred over the past three decades less as paradigm shift and more as a series of shifting winds-forces that changed in tempo, direction, and intent.
Overall, I argue that these shifting environmental winds were neither totally invented in China, nor did they arrive fully formed from the West. People in China, from scientists to villagers, officials to expatriates, were not merely affected by these winds; rather, as they observed, reached out to, and worked with these winds, people both made and transformed them. A diverse set of individuals came together in a number of ways: conversing through phone, fax, letter, and report; meeting in elegant hotel lobbies, austere government offices, and village rooms with hard-packed dirt floors. Together, they were creating new ways to understand and govern landscapes. In this next section I introduce some of the dominant theories for understanding globalization and show how what I found in China suggests something quite different.
Globalization and globalized formations
It is increasingly stated that we live in a globalized world, but what does this mean? In the 1950s, scholars began using the term globalization, mainly to describe the internationalization of business (Simpson and Weiner 1991). Since that time, the concept has expanded, and it often refers to a strong break from an earlier world purportedly composed of relatively isolated places and culturally distinct peoples, where individuals, goods, and ideas circulated much less, and at a slower pace. Globalization has since become an increasingly important topic in academic and popular culture-often used as both description and theory to explain everything from the spread of a singular economic model (neoliberal capitalism) and a singular subjectivity (the neoliberal subject), to the flow of globalized cultural formations of all sorts, from feminism, to human rights, to environmentalism.
Although most accounts of globalization explicitly focus on economic and political realms (Stegner 2004), I am more interested in cultural globalization, an interest shared by many scholars, including Arjun Appadurai, Ulf Hannerz, Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink. Appadurai challenges notions that the world is increasingly "Westernized," and instead describes five emergent global "scapes," in which many people across the globe create, including mediascapes (the distribution of the capabilities to produce and disseminate media), and ideoscapes (the ideologies of states and counter-ideologies of movements, around which nation-states have organized their political cultures, that circulate around the world) (1996). Hannerz explores the movement of cultural products, emphasizing that a few countries, such as the United States, are especially powerful exporters (2002). Although I don't totally disagree, I suggest we might use different theories to look at these dynamics--- "importing" and "exporting" may be more useful for describing the trade in commercial goods and less useful for mapping transnational cultural movements, in which ideas and strategies are substantially modified, transformed, and re-circulated. Such cultural movements are examined in Keck and Sikkink's important book, Activists Beyond Borders, contributes to our grasp of globalized formations such as feminism and environmentalism, showing how activists create networks and make ideas and strategies travel (1998). I am inspired by their work, but also interested in how new social forms are emerging, without presuming that transnational activism represents the spread of political and social norms.
Additional scholars, from many disciplines, from English to Anthropology to Geography to Critical Development Studies, have critiqued some of the main tenets of globalization theory-that the world is increasingly undergoing not only economic but cultural homogenization based on a Western model (Foster 2008, Ong and Collier 2005, Inda and Rosaldo 2002, Haugerud 2005). Many are wary of the way this belief resonates with enduring notions of Western superiority and of an inevitable "march of history" from barbarism to civilization-ideas used to justify European imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonialism (Ashcroft 2001, Robertson 1995). A number of historians question mainstream globalization theories, showing that movements of people, economic goods, and ideas are neither new nor of unprecedented importance (McKeown 2007).xx Others suggest that globalization is not as much flat and evenly distributed as it is "lumpy" (Cooper 2005) or exists as a "network of points" (Ferguson 2006), or is built through "trajectories" (Hart 2002), or labor-intensive social imaginaries (Ho 2003). Still others point to places where global capital does not flow and where states do not attempt to govern their subjects, what they call "black holes" (Trouillot 2003), "ungovernable spaces" (Watts 2003), and "zones of abandonment" (Biehl 2005).
Despite the insights described above, scholarship on globalization tends to gravitate toward or emphasize one of three different tropes that characterize how people encounter globalization: resistance, accommodation, and localization. Resistance models emphasize how subalterns (groups in positions seen as less powerful, such as the poor, women, or indigenous peoples) resist forces of domination. Many accounts, especially in the Global South, rely on the now well-established concept of resistance to explain subaltern actions and orientations. For example, a number of scholars argue that indigenous groups "resist neoliberalism" (Staler-Sholk et al. 2007), and a prominent scholar on international indigenous law argues that "indigenous movements are a form of resistance to modernization and globalization" (Kingsbury 1998:421). I would argue, in distinction, that indigenous social movements are very much a part of our contemporary global landscape. These notions of opposition draw on a longer history of accounts of peasant resistance against states, colonial forces, and local elites; one of the more widespread stories describes women in India hugging trees to prevent them from being cut down by outsiders (Guha 1990, Scott 1985, Shiva 1988).xxi
In distinction to an emphasis on resistance, a number of scholars from several frameworks emphasize how groups are brought within over-arching structures, whether they resist them or not. I refer to such studies as "accommodation."xxii Some advocates of such studies argue, for example, that over the past century, most people on earth have accommodated capitalist mandates, including participation in wage labor and a money economy. In this case, resistance may be a temporary phenomenon, but is ultimately supplanted (Taussig 1987). A quite different body of scholarship builds on Michel Foucault's notion of governmentality, which explores the "art of governing," the ways populations are conceived of and managed, as well as the ways that subjects fashion themselves (Rose et al. 2006, Luke 1999).xxiii From this perspective, power is not an external force that already made subjects resist, but power circulates through subjects, and is part of subject-making itself. Even though they are strikingly divergent, each group of scholars tends to emphasize and even presume the success of subject-making, where people accommodate and become, for example, capitalist or neo-liberal subjects.
Localization theories, in contrast, emphasize cultural difference, and stress the necessity of creative work to bring global goods and concepts into particular worlds. Some localization scholars challenge the very categories of global and local-a presumption that the world can be neatly cleaved in two-and many question narratives of active global forces and passive local recipients. Instead, they show how even apparently similar global phenomena, from eating McDonald's food to watching the TV soap-opera Dallas, are made locally meaningful in diverse ways (Watson 1997, Liebes and Katz 1990).xxiv
Despite the insights described above, scholarship on globalization tends to emphasize one of three different tropes that characterize how people encounter globalization. Yet in trying to understand how globalized environmentalism played out in China, I realized that, as different as these models are, they are now limiting our understanding as they tend to encode four central assumptions that now permeate work on globalization. They tend to assume (1) that the global (in various forms such as science, capitalism, or neoliberalism) is something forged in the West, (2) that global forms are relatively fixed, or, change in stages, such as capitalism moving from Fordist to flexible forms,xxv (3) that global formations flow only in a one-way trajectory, only impacting local cultures, and (4) that global encounters take place either between a global and a local group or between two groups regarded as having known identities and interests. The way that I saw environmentalism unfold in everyday lives, however, belied these models and presented a picture that was far more reciprocal and transformative than the models lead us to conceive. This led me to consider more seriously the Chinese metaphor of winds as a concept for thinking about globalization. As much as studies of localization can explore with great precision how novel forms are incorporated into daily lives (and thereby avoid the trap of arguing that people either accommodate or resist), they assume a unilinearity of direction of flows. They are thus unable to inquire into the very question of how "the global" and associated social formations are made and remade.
My perspective on globalization is informed by scholarship that seeks to "provincialize Europe," by elaborating alternatives to the dominant accounts of modernity, nation-formation, and social development that are often Eurocentric (Chakrabarty 2008). Even in many accounts of globalization that explore diverse settings, scholars' arguments that, for example, Indonesians "dub" Western media (Boelstorff 2005) or Africans "cannibalize" Western ideas, both reinforces the idea of a one way flow and may reify notion that projects are "Western" or "local." I join critics of studies on the economy, colonialism, and global development who point to the problematic prevalence of asocial, all-powerful machine-like forces that are said to explain social change (Gibson-Graham 1995, 2006; Watts 2001). For example, colonial studies moved away from a primary focus on the colonized and assumptions "that what it meant to be European, Western, and capitalist was one and the same, to a more nuanced approach that questions the dichotomy of colonizer/colonized and examines instead interactions of engagement, intimacy, inequality, and opposition" (Stoler and Cooper 1997). Such studies, then, explore colonial engagements not just as Western impositions, but activities that made and re-made capitalism and the "West" itself (Mintz 1985, Blaut 1992).
My analysis incorporates these insights, building on studies of global encounters using what one could call a "world-making" approach. This includes, among others, work by Mei Zhan (2009), Lieba Faier (2009), Anna Tsing (2004), Sasha Welland, Rebecca Karl (2002), Renya Ramirez (2007), and Celia Lowe (2006).xxvi One of the fundamental features of this approach is that it expands the feminist insight that identities are formed relationally through interaction, and it applies this insight to the question of larger social formations, such as environmentalism and globalization. World-making challenges the premise that groups have singular and fixed identities, and mechanically pursue interests that are already known and congealed. Instead, it views identities and interests as constituted through social interaction. xxviiMei Zhan's work, for example, explores the ways in which "Traditional Chinese Medicine" (TCM) did not arrive already fixed when it arrived in California in the 1980s (2009). Other scholars might assume that TCM was "Chinese" and became "Americanized" in the United States. Instead, Zhan shows how the cultural engagements of a wide range of people (including patients, practitioners, critics and advocates of various ethnicities and nationalities) forged relationships, created exchanges, and made negotiations that crossed the Pacific, shaping TCM on both shores. This is thus more than a typical localization study, as it takes a dialogic approach to tracing ramifications rather than impact model.
The east winds and west winds in a global world
Most people in China use the concept of winds to refer to powerful, domestic, state-led events, but I began to understand how the metaphor of winds can work beyond national borders, as a way of thinking about how social formations become globalized. One of the few, and now famous, references to global winds was during the Great Leap Forward when Mao Zedong triumphantly declared that the "East Wind will defeat the West Wind" in 1958. Mao borrowed the term "East Wind" (Dong Feng) from ancient Chinese historyxxviii to stand for socialism (led by China and the Soviet Union), while the "West Wind" (Xi Feng) stood for capitalism (led by the United States and England).xxix
Although I use them differently, one can adopt the concept of winds to rethink dominant assumptions about how globalization works. For example, most accounts of China regard the Mao era as a time of autarky and inward self-sufficiency, when China severed its existing international connections, and the "bamboo curtain" went up (e.g., Wong and Han 2005).xxx Most descriptions of China's spectacular rise to a place of global influence begin their narrative after Mao's death and China's "opening" in 1978 (e.g., Greenhalgh 2010). According to this perspective, China was on the receiving end of globalization until the 1980s or 1990s, when it began to have global power and reach. Although it may be true that in global economic terms, Mao-era China (1949-1978) was relatively insignificant, I suggest that China played a significant role in inflecting globalized formations, a role that is largely forgotten today.
I now offer two brief examples, one "global" and one "local," to demonstrate more concretely how I understand the way winds work, travel, and transform. The first example looks at "America's Cultural Revolution" in the 1960s (Kimball 2001) to consider the importance of China and Third World liberation movements in inflecting the goals and language of the women's and civil rights movements, what is often regarded as a largely domestic affair.xxxi The second example is more familiar, wherein a Western project is being carried out in a developing country; this is the more typical conception of how global flows work, from "the West to the rest."xxxii In this case, I will take you to Yunnan Province where WWF's tropical rainforest conservation project was being evaluated by a team from the European Union.
The Winds from the east: China's role in the global sixties
Although few Mao advocates actually traveled from China to North America or Europe, images and stories of China's liberation began to change the way Westerners thought about power, gender, and society in the 1960s.xxxiii In North America, it was a time of challenging authority, uprooting inequities, and experimenting with radical egalitarianism, and it was deeply influenced by news of China's Cultural Revolution. Several social movements, such as women's rights and civil rights, owe much to a number of Third World struggles. In particular, China provided critical tools and excitement as a model of liberation and revolution for feminists and Black nationalists (Ho and Mullen 2008, Prashad 2002)-though this is rarely acknowledged.xxxiv
Right from its inception, the People's Republic of China promoted itself as a global leader of women's liberation; women's rights advocates around the world invoked Chinese policies to argue for enhanced rights in their own countries. In 1950, the first year of Mao's rule, China criminalized forced marriages and legalized divorce, far earlier than most countries. In North America, feminist practices such as "consciousness-raising sessions" drew directly on Chinese models of politicization, borrowed from widely popular books like Fanshen (Hinton 1966). According to Hinton, fanshen
means "to turn the body," or "to turn over." To China's hundreds of
millions of landless and land-poor peasants it meant to stand up, to throw
off the landlord yoke, to gain land, stock, implements, and houses. But it
meant much more than this. It meant to throw off superstition and study
science to abolish 'word blindness' and learn to read, to cease considering
women as chattels and establish equality between the sexes, to do away
with appointed village magistrates and replace them with elected councils.
It meant to enter a new world...
From this book and others, feminists in North America learned how in China, many people were encouraged to "speak bitterness" (su ku), to speak of their suffering and hardship in public forums. North Americans also borrowed this technique of collective discussion to share stories of their oppression as individuals and as women, to understand the social nature of their experience.
Like the many study groups in China, North American feminists organized their own groups to study and discuss readings.xxxv Slogans like "the personal is political," which changed the ways people understood, experienced, and engaged with what would count as "political" were inspired by readings from China (Hanisch 1970, 2006).
There was also much cross-over between work in feminism and civil rights, and both groups drew on China's inspiration. Mao's little red book sold well not only among socialist feminists but also Black Power advocates, and it was a common sight in 1960s' Harlem and the San Francisco Bay Area (Kelley and Esch 1999). Members of the Black Panther Party often quoted from Mao; and by the late 1960s, when they began to shift from a nationalist to an internationalist movement, they required all members of the Black Panthers to read Mao's book, thereby forging what some call "Black Maoism" (Austin 2006, Kelley and Esch 1999).
Powerful leaders like Malcolm X invoked China as a positive example, stating that the Chinese had killed off their landlords, whom he referred to as their "Uncle Toms."xxxvi Mao, in turn, gave several talks about American racism; and China became a destination for radical blacks, including W.E.B. DuBois and the Black Panther's Huey Newton.xxxvii The Black Panthers were part of a larger group sometimes referred to as North America's "Third World Leftists" (Young 2006), many of whom began to see the Vietnam War as parallel to the creation of Third World conditions for ethnic minorities in the United States.xxxviii While China played an influential role in feminist and civil rights social movements in North America, it did not do so through much material aid like funding or guns; instead, China reached out with images, text and speech.xxxix
China's influence in North America was not singular but combined with many others, including the work of Franz Fanon, the radical critic of French colonialism. North Americans worked hard to translate and transform these winds, including Maoism, into viable strategies and ways of talking and doing that brought something new as well as were reconfigured to make sense in their time and place.
North American radicals were also deeply inspired by and connected to the strong anti-colonial movement in Africa, where, unknown to many, China was playing a strong role, not just conceptually but also materially. Starting in the 1950s, thousands of Africans traveled to China for advanced training in medicine, engineering, and even guerilla military tactics (Brady 2003). In 1962, the East Wind bifurcated when the alliance between China and the Soviet Union turned antagonistic, unleashing a three-way "scramble for Africa" among China, the USSR, and the United States. Through the 1960s and 1970s, during a supposedly autarkic era, Chinese activists traveled to Africa, where they staged plays arguing that Africans and Chinese should, as "people of color," stand together against the United States and Soviet Union (Larkin 1971). China was a strong supporter of independence movements in Africa, in particular anti-colonial struggles against England, France, and Portugal, sending shiploads of guns and other weapons, xl as well as being heavily involved in Africans' political and economic development. In other words, China not only brought colonialism to an end more quickly in Africa, it also fostered the spread of Maoist socialism.xli
China's anti-imperialist efforts fostered winds blowing throughout the world, shaping political landscapes on several continents. China's influence, direct and indirect, helped stimulate the particular social conditions of the global sixties, which included a desire for shared internationalism; a critical skepticism towards big government, big business, and authority; and a sense of utopian hope (Wolin 2010).xlii These sensibilities connected people who would help establish environmentalism as a new social formation, symbolized by the first Earth Day in 1970.xliii Although environmentalism, like feminism and civil rights, is often assumed to have been invented in the West and diffused to the rest of the world as part of a global flow, these formations are, in fact, indebted to winds deeply influenced by China.xliv
Of these three movements, feminism is the one that drew most directly on Chinese concepts, strategies, and inspiration, yet very few studies, with only a few exceptions (Ross 2010, Lieberman 1991), mention, let alone delve into, China's legacy of inspiring, indeed making, what we think of as "Western" feminism. This Eurocentrism is typical of many studies of globalization, which assume that the West is the sole innovator of social change.
Ironically, it was not while I was in China that I first learned about the historical role of the East Wind on the West's liberation movements, and indeed many of my Chinese peers also used the term "Western feminism," as though it was created solely in the West. Instead, I found these transnational links in a dusty archive in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, looking through a collection of materials created by North American radicals, such as feminist, anti-imperialist, and Black Power activists, I was shocked to see so many texts and woodcuts (the popular art technique of revolutionary politics) that referenced Mao and the Cultural Revolution.
While there were fascinating connections between the Red Guards of San Francisco and Shanghai, commune members in New Mexico and Sichuan, I also knew there were fundamental differences in terms of social practices, subjectivities, and relationships to state and society. Before exploring this further, let me turn to the second example, bringing us to Yunnan Province in the mid-1990s. While at first glance the example appears to be a quite standard case of Western development workers coming to evaluate a Western environmental project in a developing country, on closer inspection, it turns out to be much more.
2) Shifting winds, changing visions: WWF's project is evaluated
International conservation efforts in Yunnan begun in 1986, when the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) started planning a project to conserve what was seen as China's last areas of intact tropical rainforests-only recently "discovered" by Westerners. WWF managed to secure funding from the European Union (EU), and nearly ten years later, in 1995, when the project was being considered for renewal, the EU sent two European project evaluators to Yunnan.xlv After arriving in Kunming, they traveled south near China's tropical borderlands with Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam to a region known as Xishuangbanna (known locally as "Banna"), to inspect some of WWF's "model villages." Heavy rains and muddy roads hampered their travel, however, and instead they wandered the markets of Banna's main town, Jinghong, where they met with Chinese officials involved in WWF's project.
At the time of implementation (1986), WWF's project plans fit well with globalized conservation trends. Tropical rainforests became one of the world's most important ecosystems-often referred to as the "lungs of the earth," vital in producing oxygen and regulating rainfall. As important as they were, rainforests were also said to be a "counterfeit paradise:" forests that looked rich and resilient but were, in fact, incredibly fragile --- after people cut trees and cultivated crops, the soils eroded and the area turned into a permanent wasteland (Meggers 1971). Many conservationists during this period portrayed rural farmers' slash and burn agriculture as the biggest threat to the rainforest, and some referred to such farmers as "rainforest arsonists." This contributed to an emerging sense among citizens in the Global North that they needed to take dramatic action to save rainforests, a passion that caught people up, motivating people like myself to raise money under the premise that we could buy and protect land.xlvi A new international project called "Alternatives to Slash and Burn" advocated agroforestry, a scientific farming method that added trees to hillside fields in order to stabilize slopes and provide soil nutrients. Although originally developed at a research center in Kenya as a development tool for upland farmers, agroforestry was later seized on by conservation organizations that eagerly began to promote it around the world, particularly in the tropics. One of WWF's main goals in 1986 was to get farmers to stop slash and burn agriculture and start agroforestry.
Yet by 1995, globalized conservation trends had changed, and the consultants accused WWF of committing a colossal mistake. The final report stated that local farmers were not destructive but were actually practicing "indigenous shifting cultivation," which the consultants considered the most sophisticated and suitable land-use for the tropical forest. Rather than working with the state to restrict local people, the consultants wrote, WWF staff should learn from local people and try to expand locals' rights to land and resources. The EU team offered the following counsel:
As a general rule indigenous shifting cultivation is both more sophisticated
and sustainable than many settled monocultural alternatives in
the tropics . . . There is a considerable amount that WWF and others
can learn from [local people about] indigenous agroforestry and
biodiversity management (Newman and Seibert 1995).
The consultants advocated that WWF staff should essentially invert its role from teaching to learning. For many WWF staff, the report was surprising, as it challenged the original epistemological basis for the project. It turned out that WWF's field staff, both expatriate and domestic, were hardly stereotypical development agents who disparaged local people; the staff had sincere interest in local livelihoods and appreciated the quandaries faced by local farmers. In fact, many were worried about the eviction of local people as China became an "environmental state" and promoted increasingly forceful environmental mandates. Therefore, some WWF staff saw their efforts to promote agroforestry as a way to help villagers continue farming in their villages, now that much of their land holdings were seized to create a new Nature Reserve.
From my perspective, we should not see the consultants' recommendations as one more example of Western knowledge formations flowing one-way to the non-West. In fact, their report was far more surprising to WWF's expatriate and domestic staff than it was to some Chinese experts. For years, the latter had been promoting a community approach that was starting to change the shape, dynamics, and tempo of environmental winds in Yunnan. These experts had written English-language reports that were part of a vast set of efforts to unseat the previous framework, which viewed peasants as ignorant and destructive, in part through using the vocabulary of "indigenous knowledge." The consultants read some of these reports, directly leading the Europeans to "discover" indigenous people in China.
These Chinese experts did not see this "community-based approach," which valued local knowledge, as simply emerging from the "West," but nor did they see it as home grown. A number of them had gone for advanced training to the Philippines and Thailand, where they encountered radical movements for farmers' rights and indigenous rights.xlvii As well, some of the more prominent foreign experts in China who were advocating a community approach and demonstrating participatory methods were not from Europe or North America, but from India. xlviii Overall, these experts were more likely to compare Chinese nature reserves to those in Asia, rather than to those in the United States or United Kingdom. What is significant, however, is that as Chinese experts debated these concepts in Yunnan, they drew on an older legacy wherein, for more than a century, Chinese intellectuals had shown both an active interest in outside ideas and an assumption that these ideas must not just be directly translated but transformed in order to deal with "Chinese conditions" (Zhongguo tiaojian) (Liu 1995).
What do these two very different examples tell us? American scholarship typically presumes that the Second Wave women's movement was made in the United States and then exported around the globe. The evaluation of an environmental project in a village in Yunnan is ostensibly about the global coming to the local. Yet in each case there are cross-cutting global and local forces at work: China's promotion of liberation and revolution on a global stage helped propel the conditions that gave rise to the feminist and environmental movements-movements that in turn traveled back to China in altered form; in the second case, Chinese experts' studies and publications influenced the way a Western project was evaluated by a European team. The evaluation, in turn, shaped how WWF began to devise new projects, thus impacting how global environmental groups would carry out their future work.
I want to emphasize that in neither of these cases am I suggesting that we retain the notion of global flows, and simply reverse the site of origin, switching Western and non-Western places as the source of these flows. Instead, I am arguing that the notion of winds allows us to explore how globalized formations travel back and forth across national boundaries and larger global divisions (east/west, north/south) and how they are transformed along the way. These movements can be difficult to track, and do not always comply with predicted causalities, but they show us unexpected connections. Moreover, as much as winds suggest global connections, they also foreground the contours of unique encounters that occur in relation to particular place and histories.
I believe that winds provide a more nuanced and insightful way to think about globalization than global flows, especially when it comes to understanding how globalized formations and social practices change. Winds encourage us to explore how these formations travel, working in relationship to the terrain they are blowing through. Winds suggest an analytic of transformation, not fixity; a sense of multiplicity, not singularity, that does not start and end within national boundaries or always begin in the West, but is made and remade through a thousand engagements. As an example of how these winds work, we can think of physical winds, we can see how they change the landscape as they blow-wearing away rock, shaping climate, bringing rain, frost, or desiccation. Winds can be prevailing, like the ocean trade winds that made it possible for Europe to colonize the New World. Winds can also be multiple, and vary in intensity-from a gentle wind unlikely to draw notice, to a storm that knocks down forests, destroys river levees, and re-routes water courses. Likewise, the environmental winds I discuss are felt in the present and also leave traces of their past in bodies, memories, and physical landscapes-traces that re-shape the "the global" itself.
Making the global in Yunnan Province
In sum, I extend the Chinese metaphor of "winds" as a concept for understanding how globalized social formations -in this case environmentalism-travel the world in a process that continually remakes what we think of as the global. The concept of winds acts as a foil to the dominant notions of globalization as "flows"-those asocial forces assumed to flow from the West by their own accord, dominating and submerging the distinctions of other places under their totality. The notion of flows does not allow us to explore the social consequences of globalizing forces, as they affect the changing contours of social institutions and the lives of those ostensibly engulfed by their projects. Instead, the concept of winds understands global social formations as something created, maintained, and altered through social relationships and practices.
As a globalized formation, environmentalism (like capitalism) does not happen by itself, but only exists and travels due to the diverse, everyday activities that are carried out by a range of people. As the Chinese understand it, one cannot avoid powerful winds, but one must interact with them in some way. Without engagement, winds dissipate. As winds blow, they change, not automatically or in ways that are necessarily predictable, but through their articulations with specific social landscapes, just as, in a physical landscape, the force and direction of wind is affected by the mountains, forests, and valleys. The winds are also reshaping these landscapes iteratively, so that each new wind is blowing through a different (changed) place. As I argued above, rather than imagine different social formations, such as feminism or civil rights, as a Western invention that later flows throughout the world, these formations are better thought of as winds, which are formed through travels and encounters with different people, ideas, stories, and practices. Even if a particular wind began in the West, it would necessarily and inevitably transform as it travels around the world, including movements back to its places of beginnings.xlix Thus, in contrast to a notion of monolithic flows, the concept of winds allows insight into the culturally and historically specific social practices that are making and remaking the global.
The following chapters explore Yunnan's changing environmental winds by following the surprising events that transpired during the life course of WWF's project, from its start to its various intended and unintended consequences. They explore the initial negotiations by Chinese officials, to its implementation in a small rural village, to the ways that the presence of wild elephants motivated and threatened environmental efforts, and how environmentalism became increasingly linked to contentious questions of indigeneity in China. To highlight how these winds travel and how people create, engage in, and shape these winds, I employ three concepts that elucidate how global connections are established and transformed: transnational work, the art of engagement, and the making of an indigenous space. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 each explore one of these concepts and the role it plays in making the global, while Chapter 5 shows how animals can also get caught up in, and contribute to, environmental winds.
Chapter 2: "Fleeting Intersections and Transnational Work" examines how the first series of transnational conservation efforts were established in Yunnan Province in the 1980s. These connections across nations were accomplished through the vigilant efforts of a wide range of individuals, from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) staff to Chinese scientists and officials. I argue that Yunnan did not become part of the global circuits of conservation interest and capital merely because of natural endowments or as a result of Western agency. Rather, a small but dedicated group of Chinese intellectuals and in-country staff from WWF carried out what I call "transnational work." These made-in-China efforts involved exploring the province's high mountains and vast forests; identifying animal and plant species; connecting these identifications with the criteria of internationally recognized categories (such as "endangered species"); publishing papers; holding conferences; and creating infrastructures that would attract foreign interest in Yunnan. These efforts have rarely been acknowledged or investigated, yet they were part of the structures through which global environmental winds were harnessed, gathered, and transformed, a level of engagement that is effaced in most models of globalization.
Chapter 3: "The Art of Engagement" explores the ways that NGOs, government ministries, Chinese scientists, and local villagers engaged with the new opportunities and difficulties presented by environmental projects, funds, and regulations. I explore how one particular conservation project by WWF worked out on the ground, arguing that villagers neither resisted nor accommodated this project, but creatively engaged with project workers within spheres of constrained choice. Villagers experienced the project as the most concrete manifestation of the environmental winds, which had already started to affect their lives. With limited resources, mobility, and status, they tried to work with these winds by negotiating their lives and futures with NGO workers, Nature Reserve staff, and government officials. They hoped, for example, that NGO workers would offer them new forms of livelihood, better roads, or protection from the predation of wild elephants. Struggles over the project reverberated long after WWF left the site, fostering new social divisions and ways of political engagement, thereby demonstrating that winds are not merely ephemeral, but shape social landscapes in ways that continue to be felt.
Chapter 4: "Making an Indigenous Space" examines how some winds create paths for additional, unexpected social transformations. One of the key, unintended consequences of transnational environmentalism in China was that it helped precipitate new understandings of indigeneity. By the 1990s, global environmental efforts were deeply shaped by the indigenous rights movement. Although Beijing positioned itself as a supporter for indigenous rights in the West, it declared that the concept made no sense in Asia, where everyone was equally indigenous. Nonetheless, Chinese public intellectuals grabbed onto and reworked the question of indigeneity, turning it from something seen as foreign and inapplicable to China, to a force for critique and social change. The chapter follows a controversy in Yunnan over the issue of "sacred lands," a designation that is attached to a particular social category-indigenous people-and linked to sets of rights. Moreover, it shows how Yunnanese scientists started to argue for sacred lands and indigenous knowledge and eventually expanded these arguments to foster a broader sense of environmental justice for all (rural) people. The "smuggling in" of indigeneity by activists already harnessing the environmental winds reveals how the production of new social worlds occurs through the creation of particular pathways, not through submerging flows. The unintended complications resulting from this indigenous turn became a source of tension and great inconvenience for foreign organizations and the Chinese government alike.
Chapter 5: "On the Backs of Elephants" asks, "What role do wild animals play in global environmental efforts?" Previous chapters examine how particular humans, because of their positions of power or simply their ingenuity in re-directing environmental winds, played a prominent role in "transnational work:" attracting and maintaining international interest, funds, people, and projects to Yunnan Province between 1986 and 2011. This chapter shows that people did not do such work entirely by themselves; rather, they enlisted the support of many actors-including wild animals-to build networks, foster attraction, and connect China with global conservation organizations. Elephants were already playing a prominent role in re-shaping social and natural landscapes, but as participants in these new networks their importance spread. They exerted their own power as forceful beings; unlike the shy and docile panda bear, elephants continued to seek grain from human settlements and, after police banned hunting and confiscated nearly one hundred thousand guns from the region the elephants survive, elephants became increasingly bold. I relate villagers' stories of elephants' cunning, intelligence, and power as well as their perceptions of the elephants' "war" against crops, homes, and human bodies. Elephant violence created new challenges for managing the increasingly politicized relationships between nature and humans, changing the typical expectation that elephants were only victims to human action.
The Conclusion shows how the production of new social worlds is taking place in ways that defy our predictions. As the environmental winds are blowing through Yunnan, a number of relationships and practices came into being, as scientists, farmers, officials, and conservationists worked to foster new worlds. Scientists worked to remake natural landscapes, farmers reached out to officials and development agents, elephants began to carry out war, and the concept of indigeneity was harnessed into new trajectories for rural social justice. Rather than understanding globalization as an all powerful and monolithic force, the notion of winds-how they are always shaping and being shaped by the social landscape-provides a rich sense of the historical dynamics of social formations in action. It allows us to see how NGOs, rural villagers, and wild elephants are creating new social and natural landscapes that re-make the global.
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