Author Archives: toakes

Villagizing the city

I recently published an article about the town of Danjiang, in Guizhou Province, which, beginning in 2008, underwent a massive face-lift project to transform itself from an aspiring and urbanizing town into a village.  The article focuses on a theoretical … Continue reading

Posted in Minzu, Urban China | Leave a comment

Privatizing clean air, part II

In an earlier post, I commented on the privatization of clean air as a business model that in effect commodifies what should be a basic right.  Clean air has become the bottled water of China’s 21st century; a once-ubiquitous resource … Continue reading

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Privatizing clean air

As living with toxic air becomes part of people’s mundane daily lives during the winter in northern and central China’s cities, it’s inevitable that the entrepreneurial exuberance of many urban residents will find ways to commodify the right of breathing … Continue reading

Posted in Consumption, Environment, Guizhou, Tourism, Urban China | 1 Comment

As goes China’s coal, so goes the world

The global climate agreement recently reached in Paris establishes a framework for international cooperation on CO2 emission reductions.  It’s an historic step, politically.  Whether or not countries, like the US and China (which together account for the vast majority of … Continue reading

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One third of China’s population will be over 65 by 2050

It has been a few months since China’s announcement that it was shifting its family planning policy to a limit of 2 children per couple.  Beijing University’s Guo Zhiguang claims that it will take China much longer to recover from … Continue reading

Posted in Population | Leave a comment

Photo Essay: choaking on coal

Here’s a remarkable photo essay by Bai Shi and Zhou Yi of a Northeastern coal mining community.  Similarly to The Guardian‘s site featured in my last post, this project reminds us of those who sacrifice the most in maintaining China’s … Continue reading

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The Coal Boom Choaking China

The Guardian has a great website on China’s coal dependence and its consequences.  Check it out here.  Relatedly, the NPC recently passed an amendment to China’s air quality law.  Two somewhat contrasting news reports offer an interesting picture of the … Continue reading

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In praise of contamination – Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy

Students who take my World Regional Geography course know that one of my favorite metaphors for understanding and appreciating the world’s cultural diversity is ‘contamination.’  But this is not an idea that I dreamed up.  Nearly a decade ago, Kwame … Continue reading

Posted in Frontiers, Language | Leave a comment

The fake Olympics redux

Several years back, I wrote a short piece for The China Beat (subsequently revised and published in the volume China in 2008) about all the accusations of fakery that were swirling around the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  … Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Olympics, Water | Leave a comment

Another study on the health costs of air pollution in China

Berkeley Earth, a California-based climate science research non-profit, has released a study on the effects of air pollution on mortality in China.  Calling China’s air pollution “the greatest environmental catastrophe in the world today,” the study claims that 17% of … Continue reading

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